Saturday, June 24, 2017

Join us in Sioux Falls

Habitat for Humanity?  Me?  Us?  Sioux Falls?

"I've always wanted to do that, but haven't done it yet..."  or

"I was looking for a place and purpose to park the RV in August 2017..."

Sioux Falls is one of the great communities we have visited over the last eight years of Full-timing.  We have friends who live there and have seen some interesting things.

  • The city Bike Trail alone makes me want to hang out for a while there.  
  • The downtown area has a lot of great restaurants. 
  • The city art / sculptures on the sidewalks and stores makes the place even more intriguing. 
  • And the City Falls Park is another wonderful thing to see in Sioux Falls.

But the main reason we are going there is to volunteer with the Habitat for Humanity RVer group known as Care-A-Vanners (CAV).  The Habitat for Humanity Sioux Falls affiliated is sponsoring a CAV build July 30 - August 13, 2017.

If you can make it there, please consider joining us.  It will be fun.  We need four couples to join us there.  If you've never done any work with Habitat for Humanity, its easy its rewarding and we always have a good time.  And it will give you a change to learn more about HFH.
We'd love to meet you and help out the Sioux Falls community.

Skill level?  None required.  Nope -- all skill levels or no work experience at all is needed to work on Habitat builds.  We will find a job for you.  Everyone can help.

But it is essential that you be:

  • Willing to help
  • Interested in learning
  • Agreeable/friendly

Here are somethings we can look forward to:
  • Meals:  Sunday evening after we arrive on July 30, 2017, the affiliate will have a Welcome Dinner for us. During the week, all they will furnish breakfast and snacks during break time.  Also we will have one other dinner with the team hosted by a local Sioux Falls volunteer couple.
  • Meaningful work:  We will be building a house from the ground up.  The foundation will be poured and ready to go for our time there.  Not all volunteers get to be involved in the framing phase of the build.  This will be great!
  • T-Shirts:  Yes!  Your own memento T-Shirt provided by Habitat.  (What Care-A-Vanner didn't love another T-Shirt?)
Here are a couple of links to take a look at

  • HFH Care-A-Vanners Build list:  Sioux Falls. Look around the web site.  click on the Sioux Falls link and go through filling out the Volunteer information.
  • We'll be staying at the Tower Campground.  The affiliate pays for your full hookup/50 amp site/ with sewer.

If you'd like to join us 'click' on the build list where you see 'Sioux Falls' at the bottom of the page:
More info on the build with the 'please fill out the registration form' link.

If you have questions or need more information, please shoot me an email or let me know how I can get in touch with you and Lets Do This!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles - And thanks to you folks that take the time to post a comment.  We really appreciate it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Moving On - Tennessee then Red Bay

We left Virginia Beach after six months here.  Its the longest stay in one area of our 8+ years on the road.  We arrived in December 2016.
We were here for the birth of Harrison on January 31 and Brooks' birthday on February 15.  We helped with the kids for a couple of months until Kelly had surgery in April.  A large benign (thankfully) tumor was removed from near her intestines and she had a few weeks before she could lift the kids.  But all went well, she recovered quickly and we are now back on the road and doing our thing.

Some great things happened while we were here:

- We got to spend the holidays with our kids and their spouses.  We cherish those times.  Plus Adam and Melissa a three plus hours away in Fairfax so we have had a chance to see them a few times.  We love it every time we can do that.

- We didn't stay with Jon and Kelly, but we were within 45 minutes of where they live.  We went over to their place almost everyday and sometimes during the weekend.  We had a few days where it didn't work out, but we were at their place a lot.  We appreciate them including us in their lives and letting us help out.  We know that its a privilege to be able to be involved in our kids lives and we know not everyone has it.  We don't take it for granted, nor did we want to overstay our welcome.  We found a happy medium.

- Its been great learning how to become grandparents.  We have a lot more to learn but we are getting the hang of it.  Its fun to be helpful.  And nothing beats having the little one run full speed at you when he sees you yelling, "Paaappaaaa!" or "Maaammaaaa!".  We thought we wanted to be 'Grandma' and 'Grandpa' but "Mama" and "Papa" suit us just fine.

- There's a lot to be said being near our kids.  It is only 3.5 hours from Virginia Beach to Fairfax, so we are glad to make the drive up I-95 to see Adam and Melissa when we get the chance to do so.  It was fun to be around a couple of weeks while they were remodeling their kitchen and to see them at birthdays and such.  We found a favorite place at Bonefish (who would have thought?) and always enjoy seeing them and seeing what they are up to in their busy lives.

- One of the joys in the last couple of weeks has been to see some old friends and co-workers from our old life.  We moved to Fairfax in 1992 and left in the Roadrunner in 2009.  In those 17 years we made a number of close friends at church and work and we were able to see some of them during an Open House weekend.  One friend was having an event for other friends who had moved away.  We were able to see folks we hadn't seen in a long while.  It was great!

- If we had to guess today, when the time comes to 'get off the road', we'd probably end up in Virginia Beach.  In the last six months, we have had the opportunity to meet some people at church who are our age.  Its been fun. We were at a get-together with a few other couples and each gave a short introduction of themselves.  Almost everyone was there because of their grandkids!  That was an eye-opener.  Since that evening, its been easier to develop friendships, so that is nice.

- Another big benefit of hanging around VB for six months is how much we have been able to save.  We have shelled out some big $$ over the past two years with medical bills, RV repairs and some hefty maintenance on our car.  It's been great to finally get over the hump on the finances by not paying for diesel fuel or new repairs.  We've averaged under $20/night campground fee since December.  Also -- I was able to get a lot of hours of work-for-pay online during January-February.

- Another nice (and not insignificant) item we appreciate about being in this part of the country is Wawa coffee.  We love the fact, we can do self-serve coffee (Hazlenut/French Vanilla blend please) almost everyday.  We love Wawa!  They also encourage customer feedback on their receipts. After filling it out (takes about 2 minutes), you get an email that has a coupon which is good for a soda or cup of coffee (any size) for the next week.  Free!  How good is that?

There are more things we loved about being in VB for the last few months.  Watching Brooks grow and learn and developing a relationship with him is the best.  He is one precious guy.  Can't tell you how much of a huge blessing this little guy is.  What a wonder.

And then there is Harrison!  He is a cute little fella with the quickest little smile and big eyes.  He's already rolled over and will probably be crawling by the time we see him next in October.  Such a huggable little guy.  So different from Brooks but he gives you the idea he's entirely up for the challenge.  

One thing we wondered about after seeing Kelly and Jonathon was, "How did we do it?"  It seems a lot tougher in our 60's than it did when when we had two kids 19 months apart.  But we were in our 20's.... It's been great to see K & J and see how they adapt and adjust and move through parenting.  They are doing an awesome job.

We had a nice dinner with everyone last night and said goodbye for now.  Thankfully Brooks didn't yell, "Stop!" as he does sometimes when we say goodbye.  It could have been tougher.  But it is time. Time for them and for us.

Today we were up early, dumped the tanks, and were on the road by 6:30 AM.  We ran into rain early, then about 9:30 it started to clear up.  We headed for Richmond, turned toward Charlottesville and then down I-81 and the Shenandoah Valley.  It was beautiful.  Traffic wasn't too bad and we arrived at our stop at Fort Chiswell RV Park for the night.
It is a great overnight stop, didn't even have to unhook.  And the pool is open which was a bonus.  They have a large group here and I got to talk to 4-5 people.  As one said, "We are so lucky to be doing this!".

Yes we are.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Troubleshooting the Door

The Roadrunner must be getting a sense that it is heading to Red Bay soon.  A couple of things stops working.  First, we went to dump the tanks and get more water and when we returned from the dump station, our DS slideout would not extend.  It only went out about a foot.  Yikes!

We looked for a sheared off bolt, mulled it over and thought about it and decided the best thing to do was to get it back in and get it fixed at Red Bay.  Pam pressed the button while I pushed the slide from the outside and it came back in snugly.  Whew!

I don't know how to manually reel in the slides, but I know that it can be done.  Glad I didn't have to learn that one...

One thing we did know (from previous experience) is that if the slide isn't operating correctly as in this case, we want to secure it with wood blocks.  To do that, we had to measure the distance from the from of the inside wall at the top -- to the backside lip of the slide out.
Once secured in place by just wedging it in there, the slide out can not move out.  We'll wait to get to Red Bay next week to get that one fixed.  I am guessing its a motor but we'll see.

Another day the keyless door entry quit working.  We punched in the numbers and everything seemed to open and close OK on the bay doors but the front door did not work.  We used an extra key and locked and unlocked the door for a few days.

Then Pam cleaned the contact points on the inside frame of the door.  That did not help.  A day later, we thought it might be a fuse.  The fuse for the keyless entry is inside of the bottom front bay, behind the wall.

I removed the faceplate / wall and found the fuses.  There were two and we inspected both and they looked good.
Then we removed the contact point on the inside frame of the door and found a dangling wire.
That was our culprit.  Pam keeps extra pieces in our bin trays in bay two aka 'the garage'.
After putting on two clean connectors, the contacts were good and we tested it.  Yay!  It worked.  I can always tell when Pam gets excited-- she clinched both fists and said, "We did it!".  And gave me a high five.

Besides troubleshooting the door and the slide out, I think we are good to go.  We've ordered the carpet from Lowe's and it should be there next week.  Hopefully all will go well.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

First in Flight

The motto on the North Carolina license plate motto is:  First in Flight.  I remember first reading that many years ago and thinking something like, "Really?  I thought the Wright Brothers were the first ones to fly an airplane."

Turns out they were and they did -- in North Carolina.

Pam and I took another druve from our campgrounds just inside the southern Virginia border.  Google maps said were only 47 miles from Kill Devil Hills and we took a drive down there.  We not only saw the National Memorial site at Kitty Hawk, but also had a nice lunch and did some shopping.  It made for a very nice middle-of-the-week day trip.

We drove up to the memorial site and found the visitor's center to be under renovation.
The building was built in the 1960's are apparently had a number of leaks that needed to be addressed.

The temporary restrooms and check-in point were well manned with knowledgable people and plenty of merchandise.
 We were more interested the warehouse/buildings that became the workshop and living quarters of Wilbur and Orville Wright.
This is were they parked their plane as it was being built and worked on.  This building also served as their home, where they slept in slings hung from the rafters.
The Park Ranger was telling their story. Though they had a successful bicycle business in Dayton Ohio, they were fascinated by the idea of flying.  Wilbur wrote the Smithsonian Institute in 1899 and inquired about literate on the subject.
Based on the information they received plus their inquisitive and engineering mindset, they developed their own theories of flight.  This is impressive since both young men did not finish high school.  Hard to imagine how they became inquisitive, self-taught scientists.  Clearly a different breed.  They experimented with various gliders and used Octave Chanute's design for a model of their own biplane.  In fact, they contacted him and were friends until his death in 1910.

I found this tidbit particularly interesting since I was born at Chanute AFB, in Rantoul, Illinois.  I don't know why, but I never looked up the significance of that name or why the AFB was named after him.  Now I know.

They picked the Kill Devils Hills area for their research and tests based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau that described the high hills and good winds.  They visited Kill Devil Hills, NC from their home in Dayton Ohio in 1900.

From that point they regularly returned during the next four years.  They conducted months of testing and learning about glider flying  as they developed their thinking on wing design and mechanics.

Finally, in December 1903, they were ready to fly the plane.  Their first attempt on December 14 did not go too well and some repairs were necessary.  Then, three days later, they got the results they hope for.  They produced powered flight four times.  Adjustments were made after each flight and they knew they were on their way.

The National Memorial grounds are laid out to show the high point of the area where they launched over a thousand glider flights leading up to their first four powered flights.
 This stone marks their first of four flights on December 17, 1903 using a 12 horsepower, 180 pound engine.  They launched it from a single wooden rail. They flipped a coin, shook hands and Wilbur laid down on the craft.  With the noisy engine started, they flew four times that day:
    1. First flight:  lasted 12 seconds, went 120 feet
    2. Second flight:  12 seconds,  175 feet
    3. Third flight:  15 seconds, 200 feet
    4. Fourth flight: 59 seconds, 852 feet
At the other end of the grounds was a memorial on top of the high dune in the area.  Since the Wright Brother's arrival in 1900, the whole area was planted with grass to preserve dunes.  The site was designated for commemoration in 1927 by Calvin Coolidge and it was dedicated in 1932.   

 Orville Wright and Ameila Erhardt attended the dedication of the site.
At the back side of the memorial a bronze series of sculptures is used for a play ground.  It is based on the photograph of the Wright Brother's first powered flights.
They had a small group that day to help.  Less than ten people were there, including Wilbur and Orville.  And three people from the nearby Life Saving Station, one of whom they asked to take the photograph with the camera they set up for the occasion.

After seeing the memorial, we found a great place to have lunch:
Though it was a bit of an overcast day, we enjoyed it.  Our server, Hristina, added to our time there.
We arrived before the lunch crowd rush and had a few minutes to chat with her.  She's a summer worker from Macedonia with a very friendly way and told about her home country and life back there.  She's a graduate student and is in law school and has been coming to the Outer Banks for the last three summers.  

Next on the agenda was a stop at the Outlet Stores.  We don't often find bargins or things that we can't do with out but we did manage to get a new wallet and handbag.  

We also made stops at Starbucks and Walmart before the drive back and it was another great day trip.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017 Summer Travels and Beyond

We've pulled out the eraser and pencil and updated our plans for travel when we leave here the middle of June.  Here's a some things we've jotted down:

June 2017
  • Chesapeake VA: Stewart Campground (military campground where we currently are parked) 
  • Maynardville TN:  Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground
  • Red Bay AL:  RV maintenance and repairs
July 2017
  • Maynardville TN: Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground (private)
  • Williamstown KY: Noah's Ark
  • Columbus OH:  State Capitol
  • Indianapolis IN: State Capitol/ Indy Brickyard
  • Lansing MI: Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanner Build
  • Port Huron MI: See Bakers across the border in Petrolia Ontario
August 2017
  • Sioux Falls SD: Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanner Build
  • Seneca KS:  Solar Eclipse viewing
September 2017
  • Haymarket VA:  near Fairfax, Habitat for Adam and Melissa
  • Richmond VA:  Pocahontas State Park, Civil War museums and historical sites
  • Williamsburg VA: Chetham Annex (military campground)
October 2017
  • Virginia Beach VA: appointments (Ocean Pines military campground)
November 2017
  • Coca Beach FL:  Patrick AFB FL Manatee Cove Campground (military campground)
  • Florida County Parks?
December 2017
  • Mayport FL:  Pelican Roost Campground (military campground)
  • Pensacola FL:  Ocean Grove Campground (military campground
January 2018
  • Florida?
February 2018
  • Tucson AZ
March 2018
  • Tucson AZ
April 2018
  • Albuquerque NM: Kirkland AFB (military campground)
May 2018
  • Virginia Beach VA
June 2018
  • Virginia Beach VA

Like always, some of these are locations and dates are more settled than others.  

But this serves as 'peek' into our planning.  We hope that if we can meet any of you along the way we can work something out to say, 'Hi'.  It's one of the great joys of this lifestyle -- meeting friends and family along the way.

Also - I have updated our Google Calendar on the sidebar of the blog so you can also check out our latest plans.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Its a Zoo!

It was a great day to go to the zoo! The Virginia Aquarium had a reciprocal pass promotion with the Virginia Zoo and we took advantage of it.

It was a big success.  Pam, Kelly and the boys and I went to the Virginia Zoo shortly after 10:00 AM on Friday.  Maybe Friday's are a big field trip day for the local schools because there were probably 10 groups of kids at the entrance.  But that was no probably - its a good sized zoo and we got around without too much congestion.
We only had time for a few of the exhibits but they were great!
The first one on the trail was the Trail of the Tiger.  
We didn't see a tiger but did find a orangutan or two
 I thought the whole zoo and layout was very well done.  The walkways and suspended overlooks into the cages and animal exhibits were safe, kid proof and good viewing.

 We saw a couple of bears who were quite active in their compound.
We took both boys and the double stroller and Brooks got out of his seat about 5 minutes into the zoo.  He had a great time running around.  He couldn't wait to see the "amals" and was not disappointed.
It was impressive to see Kelly keep up with him and keep him hydrated and fed and entertained to stay ahead of the dreaded meltdown.  He's an active and curious 2 year old.

An added bonus was meeting up with one of Brooks' buddies - Owen (a few months older that Brooks).  He was there with his mom and grandmother.  It was nice to see them again and spend some time together.

After the bears, we made it over to Africa exhibit and saw the giraffes and rhinoceros.

And a sleeping lion.  You can barely see it on the right under the tree.

About lunch time, Brooks had seen enough and we headed out.  It was a beautiful day and we all had a good time at the zoo!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Financials for our 8th Year on the Road

This is about our monthly expenses for our 8th Year on the road.
This is what they look like with a screen shot:

I realize that this is basically unworkable so I am trying something new this month which is using Google Sheets to show our end of month summaries.

If you'd like to access my spreadsheet online try this link:
The sea of red is where we were over budget.  Yikes!

In many categories, we were over our target budget and we ended up averaging over $641.55 over our monthly budget of $4100.  But in some areas we made out pretty well.

- Both our RV insurance and our car insurance rates increased in March.

- We averaged over in the gas but under in the diesel fuel.

- Since we stayed in Virginia Beach for over six months it was good news and bad news.  We ended up going over budget in the groceries and eating out, but we saved in a lot of other areas.

- We saved a lot this year by staying in military campgrounds.  Especially the last six months when we stayed in Virginia Beach.  Local campgrounds are upwards of $50/night in high season.  We have paid less than $20/night.

RV and Car Maintenance:
- The last two years have been especially hard on the budget with maintenance and upgrades on the Roadrunner.
- And the car has have a lot of maintenance bills we did not expect over the last two years.

- We were $116 over budget on the groceries but pretty close on the eating out portion of our

- We were under budget for the year and we spent an daily average of $21.95/night.

- DirecTV charges for the year were $85.74 which was under budget.  You have to be careful with these folks.  I don't know how many times I see the costs spike and then I call them, ask for discounts etc.

- This is our 'catchall' for other purchases and includes golf, entertainment, clothes, gifts, etc.  We averaged $368/month.

Cell/Internet Access:
- A couple of years ago we were paying an average of $350/month.  We had our phones with AT&T and our internet Jet pack access with Verizon.  We were hoping to save some money and did.  Now we pay an average of $236/month by having Verizon as a single carrier.

Medical bills:
- With my eye surgery last summer, followup cataract surgery, dental root canal and a crowns, we've been over budget.
- Overbudget, but I realize how fortunate we are to have Tricare health coverage.  It saves us a bundle.

Here's a quick summary of the two high cost areas for us this last year:

  Actual Budget  
Rv and Car Mx $12,184.79    5,700.00 -6,484.79
Medical  $4,307.80 140.00 -4,167.80

Those two items themselves (RV and Car Mx, and Medical accounted for over $11,000 of our expensive year.

That's a recap of Year 8 Expenses.  Thanks for checking in today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Crossing the Border

It was time for another day trip but first we entertained Jon and Kelly and the boys.  They drove out to our new campsite at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads which is near Chesapeake.  The Stewart Campground is a good find and we like it out here.

With the summer upon us, there are a lot more people out camping.  We were not able to extend our stay at Ocean Pines RV Campground (military) in Virginia Beach, so we came farther south to Stewart Campground.

Instead of the $50+ per night camping fees at commercial campgrounds in Virginia Beach, we pay $18 for this site.  It has a lot going for it.  Despite gravel roads at the campground, they are well maintained.  And the site is level.  We have room to park our car (though it is pictured at the next site while we got set up.)
The campground has 18 sites and all but one are full for the weekend.  We have 50 amp service and had no problem getting DirecTV satellite reception.  Cell phone service is OK and we are on our own for internet.   Our Verizon Jetpack works fine, though a little slow.

And we are out in the country!  It is a beautiful drive here and quiet and we can listen to the birds and frogs outside our bedroom window.  This campground is about 45 minutes away from Jon and Kelly but the roads to here are excellent and it is a beautiful drive out here.

On Saturday morning Kelly and Jon and the boys came to see us.  I went to escort them into the base (since I have a retired military ID card, I can sponsor them on base) and met them outside the gate in the parking lot.  Except I drove out there and left my wallet in the Roadrunner.  Yikes!  Now what to do...

The Security Police were nice enough to drive over to the campground five minutes away. Pam retrieved my ID card from my wallet and the Security Police drove out to meet me in the parking lot.  That was awful nice of them!  It was a slow Saturday morning for them I guess, but I really appreciated that!

Once at the campground we fields and played some.

Brooks had a snack and Harrison got fed and changed.  And we went over to a playground a while and they enjoyed their short stay with us.  They needed to get back by noon for naps.

We thought about taking a day trip across the North Carolina border and did just that.  We had a few hours and it was a beautiful day.  So off we went.  First stop was the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A and then on down Hiway 168
Before we knew it we were across the border and into North Carolina.  I'll bet it wasn't 15 minutes.  We found the Information Center and went in for some maps and such.

We find it is always useful to see what we can find out at these places, so if we often stop and check them out.  It was a good choice.  The friendly folks at the desk were full of good ideas and very helpful.  We met Debra who is going on an RV trip later this summer with her husband along the Eastern Coast into South Carolina, down to Florida and over to Louisiana.
 That was fun!  And she gave us some good tips of what to see in town.  We found the local Sports store and picked up a couple of hats and such.  Next door was Skip and his chain saw sculpture/woodworking business.
 He was the friendly sort and does some nice work.

 He also has some great looking rustic cabin tables and furniture which were beautiful.

Debra told us we needed to stop in and get some 12 layer chocolate cake at Kevin's down the road.  It was another place that normally wouldn't catch your eye but we were on a mission.
Cindy's kitchen is next door but she has a lot of shelves in the gas station convenience store dedicated to her cakes and desserts.  We say the cake but thought those layers were a little thin and opted for the massive chocolate fudge brownie.  We saved it for dinner last night and it hit the spot.

We continued our drive around the area to see what we could see and found Bells Island Campground on the water.  It was a crowded place but there were a lot of people there for the weekend.  Not sure we'd ever stay there but there were a lot of folks who did.  RVs and tents.

Not far from there is the Currituck Ferry Terminal that goes over to Knotts Island.  Might be another fun day trip some time.

On the way back to our campground we stopped at a produce market on the highway.  This was a real treat!  The Morris Farm Market has a lot of great fruits and vegetables.  And it is an attraction with more that just the produce.
 We looked around and listened to some music for a bit at the outdoor bar and also took a minute to go to the restrooms.
They know how to do restrooms right at Morris Farms.  They have six individual he/she rest rooms that are private.  Once in there, you do your business but I couldn't help but admire how they have done things.
 Each rest room is an experience and well decorated and clean and just a nice place.  And its the first place anywhere I have seen where they put paper towels under the urinal (that gets changed every day I assume)to collect males that can't hit the urinal.  Nothing more grungy than seeing that all over the floor.  It made an impression.  It was very clean.

Next we took the 20 minute drive and before we knew it we were back at the campground.
Another memorable 'day in the life of a full-timer'.  It was a beautiful day for a short drive and we saw and met some interesting people across the border in North Carolina  We are going to enjoy this place for a few weeks.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.