Monday, May 22, 2017

Roadrunner Reflections: Our Travels in 8 Years on the Road

After eight years on the road, things run together a little bit.  We launched the Roadrunner about this time of the year.  We have covered a lot of ground over that time.  We can usually remember if we've been to a place and sometimes remember the year -- but often times it is a guess.

I have wanted to put a map together showing our travels for some time but it was only recently that I learned how to use some of the map overlay features in My Maps (Google).  I am limited in entering only 10 locations per overlay.  Once I put a couple of overlays together, i have a couple of sets of locations A-J.  It's a little bit confusing on that point but it conveys the general idea.

If any of you out there have a better way I can represent this on a map, please advise!

First six months:
May to December 2009:

It was only seven months, but we went coast to coast, border to border.
Some notable places we saw in our first six months on the Road:
  1. Home of Chet Atkins, Kenny Chesney and Pam's sister and brother-in-law.  - Maynardville TN.  Their place became the location of the Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground (private).
  2. Lake Huron/Bruce Peninsula/Tobermory Canada - Beautiful summer cottages on Lake Huron and Miller Lake Campground
  3. Mackinaw Island, Michigan - most popular tourist attraction in all of Michigan
  4. Winnebago Factory Tour - Forest City IA
  5. Mount Rushmore/Crazy Horse Monument/Black Hills - SD
  6. Badlands of South Dakota and Wall Drug Store
  7. Habitat for Humanity build - Santa Fe NM
  8. Volunteering with NOMADS - Pontiac IL and Galveston TX
  9. Tiffin Motorhomes Factory Tour - Red Bay, AL
  10. Desert Trails RV Park - Tuscon AZ
  11. Tombstone, AZ
  12. Christmas in San Diego Area
June - December 2009
1st Full Year on the Road:
2010 January to December

We also went coast to coast, border to border again for the second time.
Here's some highlights:
  1. 29 Palms / Joshua Tree National Park - stark beauty
  2. Boondocking in Quartzite AZ and La Posa Bureau of Land Management - got to do it at least once.
  3. Crossing the border into Mexico at Yuma AZ - Dental work and interesting place
  4. NOMADS Disaster Relief in Galvestion TX - Katrina followup still
  5. Haas Lake outside of Detroit MI - nice place to spend a few months
It was a tough year with the passing of our daughter-in-law Meghan, at the age of 28.  She lived in Petrolia Canada and our son moved to Michigan to be with her during her last few months.

January - December 2010
2nd Full Year on the Road:
2011 January to December

In our third coast to coast, border to border year, we went from Key West to Vancouver, British Columbia.  Here are some other highlights:
  1. Moss Point MS - More NOMADS Disaster Relief Volunteering
  2. Big Bend National Park - Long way to get there but a beautiful place
  3. Habitat for Humanity Volunteering in Santa Fe NM - my hometown
  4. Salt Lake City UT - beautiful town and state capitol
  5. Glacier National Park - need to spend a week there at least
  6. Pacific Northwest: Vancouver BC - Stanley Park is great
  7. Victoria BC - fun ferry ride and beautiful
  8. Mount Rainer National Park - picturesque
  9. Spokane WA - Reunion with my brothers and wives 
  10. Key West - can't beat the Sigsbee Campground at the Navy Base for a few weeks.  Lots of history in KW

January - December 2011
3rd Full Year on the Road:
2012 January to December

Once again we went as far south as we could, but this time, we went to Northern Maine and into Canada.  Some highlights:
  1. Savannah GA - great place to see and the best shrimp and grits I've ever had!
  2. Boston MA - so much history
  3. Bar Harbor ME/Acadia National Park 
  4. St. Augustine FL - the local bus trolley tour was great!
  5. Habitat for Humanity Build - Macon GA
  6. Everglades National Park FL
January - December 2012
4th Full Year on the Road:
2013 January to December
  1. Savannah GA - 
  2. Augusta GA and the Masters Golf Tournament - lifelong dream
  3. Florida Gulf Coast - Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Destin
  4. Texas Hill Country - Fredericksburg TX/LBJ Ranch
  5. Monterrey CA - Aquarium, nearby John Steinbeck Museum
  6. Redwood National Park CA
  7. Pacific Coast - California/Oregon
  8. Cheyenne WY - Frontier Days - 
January - December 2013
5th Full Year on the Road:
2014 January to December
  1. Quartzite AZ - Gathering of thousands in BLM  
  2. Organ Pipe Cactus National Park - magic of the Sonoran Desert
  3. Tucson AZ - hiking Sabino Canyon / Catalina State Park
  4. Sedona AZ - more Arizona beauty
  5. Phoenix Botanical Gardens - wonderful Chihuly glass sculptures
  6. Grand Canyon - still the most scenic of them all
  7. Fort Worth - reunion with my brothers and wives 
  8. Mt Airey NC - Andy Griffin's Mayberry
  9. Monticello VA - seeing Jefferson's plantation home

January - December 2014
6th Full Year on the Road:
2015 January to December
  1. Lancaster PA - Amish Country
  2. Myrtle Beach SC - golf 
  3. Charleston SC - lots of history here
  4. Nashville TN - State Capitol and Country Hall of Fame
  5. Mesa Verde National Park - Cortez CO
  6. Monument Valley UT - Fantastic setting of scenes from the Old West/ Gouldings John Wayne Museum
  7. Zion National Park - hiking and biking
  8. Bryce Canyon National Park - hoodoos and pictures
  9. Capitol Reef National Park - beauty in the canyons
  10. Arches National Park - arches and formations near Moab

January - December 2015
7th Full Year on the Road:
2016 January to December

Some highlights:
  1. Cedar Keys FL - quaint fishing village with history
  2. North Fort Myers - Another memorable Habitat for Humanity build
  3. Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks - 
  4. Arnold CA - Reunion with my brothers in the Sierras  
  5. Big Trees State Park - giant Sequoias
  6. Oregon Coast - scenic to say the least
  7. Lewis and Clark encampment - Astoria OR
  8. Columbia River Gorge/Multnomah Falls OR
  9. Little Bighorn National Park - Custer's last stand
  10. Memphis TN - Graceland and Gibson Guitar Factory
January - December 2016
8th Year on the Road
2017 - January to June

So far in 2017 we've spent our entire time in Virginia Beach.  This makes the longest time we have stayed in one town.  We've moved campsites and campgrounds a couple of times to be here with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids.  The second grandson was born in January and we stayed for  post birth surgery our daughter needed to remove a tumor.  Thankfully it was not malignant and she is fast on the mend.

We'll be hitting the road toward the end of June, stopping in Red Bay AL again for some upgrades and repairs.  Then on to see some state capitols and participate in a couple of Habitat for Humanity builds.  One is in Lansing MI and the other is in Sioux Falls, SD.

Thats a quick summary of some of the places we've seen over our travels.  It took 1200 blog posts so far to describe our life the last 8 years, with another 100+ posts I started and haven't finished.  At any rate, the maps give an idea of the routes we've taken.

Those of you that have been along for the entire ride - Thank you!  And those of you that recently found the Roadrunner Chronicles, hope you find something useful or entertaining or interesting.  Or all three.

Thanks again for joining us as we begin Year 9 in the Roadrunner.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Projects Around the House

We have been enjoying the best job there is the last five months or so:  Being Grandparents.

Most of our days we get to go over to Jon and Kelly's and baby sit Harrison who is now about 3 1/2 months old and Brooks who is 27 months old.  Kelly is doing well after her surgery a month ago, but still has about eight weeks before she can do regular baby lifting.

That means we spend most of the our days at their place arriving early and coming home after dinner.  But it is great to be able to spend time with them and to help out.  Since she has some help, Kelly has been doing a few projects when the boys take a nap.

I think the first one she tackled was the loose door knob going into the bathroom.  She took off the handle and applied about 4-5 coatings of wood filler similar to this.  She added a little each time, let it dry completely, added some more and sanded it down again before she painted it.  That stuff is really strong.

Not surprisingly, it turned out great and you'd never know there was an issue.

Next, she had a project I could help with - a headboard bench.  I found some 4"x 4" wood for the corner legs and then bought some other pieces to build this platform.  A couple of 2" x 4"s and a 2" x 6" were cut to length and used for the bench piece.
Kelly put a few coats of while on the frame and backboard and I stained the cross pieces.  Next, I secured them and it was all done.

In the bathroom, Kelly was not too fond of the oak color and silver handles on the sink cabinets.  She took off the knobs and handles, then sanded them down before spraying them a new dark color.  She did the same to the cabinet before putting on three coats of paint.  She lightly sanded between coats and it looks like a whole new piece in the bathroom.

Jon and I installed a new back door to the deck almost three years ago.  But the door trim/insulation was showing its wear, so Kelly and Pam bought some replacement weatherstripping.
It worked as advertised and could not have been easier.  Just pull it out, cut a new piece to length and press back into place.  20 minute job.

Back at our home, we had a couple of church friends Tim and Arlynn over for dinner and a tour of the Roadrunner.  After another fantastic lasagna meal by Pam we were sitting around chatting.  Tim ran his fingers along the top of the sofa and saw that it was splitting.

Confirmed.  After 10 years of normal wear and tear, the top seam was coming apart.  I indicated it was on our list to get fixed when we go back to Red Bay next month.  He said, "I could fix that right now if you have a curved needle.  But few people have a curved needle handy."  

As it happened, I did have a curved needle and he fixed it!  He is a professional who works on used cars with dealerships, working on the inside or cars doing repairs and detailing to get them looking new again. 
He really knows what he is doing and it took all of 20 minutes.  It looks great and should hold up for another 10 years.  You never what kind of skill set people may have when you have them over for dinner.  It was nice of him to offer and we're glad he took a minute to stitch up our sofa.

Whether you are in a lovely home that is a few years old or a motorhome that is 10 years old, they both require maintenance.  Little projects around the house can make a difference and they are fun to knock off the "To Do" list.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Roadrunner Reflections: The RV Lifestyle - 10 Things You Can Do for Your Wife

It has been a wonderful journey with no end in sight.  We love this lifestyle.  One thing that I have heard some people mention that might be hard is the close proximity, the need for some 'space' at times.  One friend has said more than once over the years, "We could never spend everyday all day, 24 x 7 with each other.

I agree - some people may not be cut out for this kind of life.  I think one thing that helps is showing mutual respect for each other.  We talk about 'pink jobs' and 'blue jobs', but in my book, I should know and be able to do all the jobs.  She likes navigating.  We both do the travel planning and picking dates when we want to be at places.

There are things that we are both good at and like to do and others not so much.  But we talk about it and get it all done.

Last thing we want to do is take each other for granted.  I can't tell you how lucky I feel with Pam doing so much.  No and then we see one or the other do 90% of everything.  I think it helps when both are pitching in.

I know I don't show Pam enough appreciation at times and thought maybe there are some of you out there too (and I need to remind myself) who could use a few ideas on letting your wife know how special she is.  I thought of 10 things I try to intentionally do to let her know I cherish her.

1.  Take out the trash often and without being asked.
2.  Empty the tanks often, especially the grey tank. (Nothing worse than having her taking a showing and the drain - grey tanks - are full.)
3.  Buy flowers for no good reason a couple of times a year.
4.  Wash the RV so its something she's proud of to live in.
5.  Make the bed.   (How many guys do that I wonder?)
6.  Let her drive the motorhome from time to time.  (Why hog all the fun?)
7.  Wash the dishes every night.  (Hey if she does all the cooking, its a pretty fair trade I'd say.)
8.  Help clean the inside of the RV from time to time (dust and polish the wood, do some sweeping and vacuuming.)
9.  Laundry.  Pam usually does the laundry but from time to time I do it just so she won't have to.  I am thinking the guy doing the laundry is not all that unusual.
10. TV - let her pick the programs.  I have some favorite shows and we both generally agree on the programs.  She loves baseball so we watch a lot of that.  If there's something I like I tape it and can watch it another time.
11.  Pay the bills. What few bills we have we electronically so it is easy for me to keep up with them and pay them online.
12.  Order mail.  Ordering periodic mail is not a big deal but its something I can do quickly so I do it and its one less thing for her to be concerned about.
13.  Make the campground reservations.  We have a lot of campground reservations.  And we often have changes in our plans.  I usually make the reservations and update it on the calendar so we both know what is still 'planned' and what has been actually 'reserved'.

There are some ideas that work for us.  We are still on our honeymoon (38th year in February) and I thought I'd share some ideas that seem to be working for us.

You probably have some great ideas that are not listed here -- please share them with the rest of us!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Feedback and Connecting

Today we are in:  Virginia Beach

I love interacting with our readers and friends!  Thank you for the comments and hundreds of  pageviews!  Its fun to know someone is out there and I especially appreciate the time and effort you took to respond:
Hearing from you has caused me to reflect a bit and think about the RV community and how we connect with each other.  It can be as simple as responding to a blog post or engaging as spending time face to face.  And often something in between.

We love the community and sense of camaraderie that RV lifestyle brings.  It is a subculture all its own.  Even within the RV community there are numerous groups subgroups.  Some people get into a group and travel some and stay at a location during the winter as snowbirds or winter visitors.  Others like us, hit the road a while back and are living in their RV full time.

Full time RVing is how we meet a lot of people.  I can think of two couples off hand that we met at a campground.  We had never seen them before we parked next to them.  We became good friends with both couples.

One we met the Fairgrounds at Rodeo de Santa Fe when we were there for a Habitat for Humanity Build.  The other couple we met when we were parked next to them overlooking the Gulf in Key West.  One of those couples we spent 4th of July with a few years ago in Bar Harbor Maine.  The other we have seen again in Seal Beach California and another time made sure our paths crossed in Walla Walla Washington for a few days.

Other people get a sense of community by going to Rallie's like FMCA or the Allegro Club or Escapees.  Rallies are a great way to meet some folks, get to know them a little bit at happy hours or campfires.  Next thing you know, you keep up with them and find ways to meet up again.

As you can see RVing is a mixed bag.  There are a myriad of reasons why people chose this lifestyle. And it doesn't have to be a 'forever' choice.  We know of a lot of people who did it for two or three or five years and decided it was time to get off the road and live in a community they enjoy.

We've been doing this eight years now and I always get a charge out of hearing from folks.  Sometimes it is comments on the blog.  Sometimes it is a private email, or a comment on Facebook.  Its always great and sometimes we get to meet new people face to face for the first time.

We have been to a few rallies, seminars and bootcamps.  At our very first seminar, we met Steve and Karen (GoneByRV) back in 2008 and still find ways to meet up around the country.  I think we've seen them most in Red Bay AL back at the factory.  And that is another way to meet and connect with people.

Connecting with 'friends we haven't met' and some we have through this blog has been literally quite surprising.  It is a real wonder to me when people are kind enough to send an email, or make a comment or ask a questions -- its always fun to hear from them.  Some we have never met face-to-face.  But if its possible, we often try to say 'hi' to people if we are nearby.

Such was the case a month ago or so. I got an email from Don who has been reading the Chronicles for about three years.  We were able to meet them on the weekend.  We didn't have a lot of time but  we did have a great time just getting to know a little bit about them and their story.  Looks like we are going to get together again later in the week for dinner down on the Oceanfront here in Virginia Beach.

So we connect with other RVers a number of ways.  Many times its by meeting people at campgrounds or rallies or volunteering projects.  Once we seem to 'hit it off with' them, we find a way to keep in touch and the next thing you know a new friendship is born.

Thanks again for connecting with us by reading the Roadrunner Chronicles and especially for responding to the questions!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Roadrunner Reflections: Questions for Our Readers

I've been thinking a lot lately about how this whole adventure started.  Hitting the road in the Roadrunner and 'Living the Dream' one of the most exciting things that we've ever done!  We purchased the motorhome eight years ago.

Interestingly enough, we bought our 2007 Tiffin Allegro Bus right here in Virginia Beach from a private party.  We have never regretted that decision!  We would have never guessed we'd be spending six months at a campground five miles from where it all started.

But here we are and will be for a couple of more months.  Daughter Kelly came through surgery with flying colors and is recovering nicely.  But Grandma and Grandpa continue to provide some useful assistance with the two young grand kids.

Back to the beginning of the RV Adventure and how it all started.  There are many reasons why we decided to sell everything, downsize and get into this wonderful lifestyle.

I know there are hundreds of you out there that regularly or semi-regularly check in and read The Roadrunner Chronicles, so I have a couple (three to be exact) questions for you.  Will you give some input?  Here's Question #1

1.  What is the primary reason you decided to RV? What was your main incentive?

For us -- it ended up being related to the notion that we could not decide where we wanted to retire.  Florida?  New Mexico?  Tennessee? -- we had those thoughts rattling around in the background when we started looking at RV back in 2007.

So if you'd be kind enough to respond an give some feedback -- that would be great!

Questions #2 is directly related to #1 and is this:

2.  Did you have to convince your spouse to do this?  Or were you both on board from the start?

For Pam and me, we started out slowly and talked a lot about RVs and those people that were able to afford them.  We looked and learned for quite a few months before we decided, "This might be for us if we can figure out how to pay for something like that."

It took a good many months of talking about things and then coming up with a way to pay for an RV.
That leads me to Question #3 which is:

3.  How did you (or how are you paying) pay the RV?  

Did you purchase it outright?  Did you cash in savings?  Did you finance it over time?  Did you sell your house?

In our case, we nailed it down to two choices:
We were either going to rent our house out and finance the RV; or sell our house and pay off the RV and tow before we started out.

In retrospect, we are very glad we chose to sell our 'Stix and Bricks' home.  We had 15+ years of equity in it and had been paying double payments for a few years to get the principal down.  By the time we sold it for $450K we had only $80,000 left for the payoff.

(That introduced another set of questions as, "What if this doesn't work out?" and "Are we going to be out in the middle of nowhere a few months from now and ask ourselves, "What have we done!!?"-- we will save that for another time.)

I realize many people can not or chose not to sell their home.  Everyone has to make those decisions that they are most comfortable with.   Always there is a bit of risk involved in doing this but everyone has a comfort threshold and as I have said a hundred times, "There are many ways to do this lifestyle!"

So today I have three questions I am asking for your input on:
1.  How did you decide to start RVing?
2.  Did you have to convince or persuade your spouse to RV?
3.  How did you pay for (or are paying for the RV?

There will be more questions down the road for our readers, but I hope you'll take a minute and respond and let us and our other readers know what your answers are to these questions.

Thanks so much!  And thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!