Sunday, December 28, 2008

Changing decisions

We learn and change our minds based on new information. The last 15 months have been full of inquiry, analysis, decisions and sometimes changing our mind again. I think that is normal and to be expected.

But each part of the process has been based on research, thought and a willingness to make a better decision. We avoid the idea: We decided and we are sticking with it no matter what.

For example here are some things we 'decided'...and then changed: (last item in bullet is our current decision)
  • Gas vs Diesel
  • Model: Damon Tuscany - Holiday Rambler Ambassador -Tiffin Phaeton
  • Finance vs Buy
  • RV: Class A - Fifth Wheel - Class A
  • Interior: Front refrigerator - refrigerator in galley
  • Bed: Queen size - King size
  • Washer/dryer: no - maybe
  • New/used RV: yes - no - maybe
  • Retire - Rehire (working on the road)
  • State of Residency: Texas - South Dakota - Texas
Gas vs Diesel: The first model we drove was a Winnebago Adventurer. We love the floor plan and how it handled but think the diesel model makes more sense as a full timer.

Motorhome Model: I really liked a Damon Tuscany floorplan. Then we found the Monaco/Holiday Rambler series and drove an Ambassador a number of times. More research helped us decide on a Tiffin because its reputation and company stability.

Finance vs Buy: We checked into financing an RV and thought about renting our home. We though it best to free ourselves from the burden of making a mortgage payment.

Class A vs Fifth Wheel: We didn't know much about Fifth Wheels. They are more 'homey' (comfortable) and less costly so we looked into those for three-four months. We liked the Carri-Lite Carriage model with a F-350 truck. However, the older we get (or if I hit health issues down the line), it would be more easy for us in a motorhome.

Interior: We like the more current up-front refrigerator models. Also I did not like the TV in the front window. They were big and bulky hung out. But they are much small now and don't protrude as much. Pam is fine with the refrigerator in the galley.

Bed: Most of the models we saw were queen size beds. We even got rid of our current king size bed in order to get used to it again. But now the king size option is very common, so we we can do either.

Washer/dryer: They seem so small we could wash at the campground or a laundromat. They also take up valuable space. The combo washer/dryer does not seem to be too effective. But if we find a deal with a stackable washer dryer, that may be ok.

New vs used: When we first saw the MSRP of the RV we thought they were out of reach. We automatically decided on getting a used RV. We went to 31 dealerships and decided on a Tiffin. We also obtained four good price quotes. We know we can afford a new one but are now sifting through some possibilities for a model two or three years old.

Retire vs Rehire: Hanging out on an extended vacation seems ok for a while but seems kind of empty after that. We prefer engaging with people and trying to make a difference. We will always be working, but probably at ones that pay far less. We are also looking into volunteering / building / home repair opportunities which we enjoy.

State of Residency: We like Texas and were comfortable with that choice. Then we decided on South Dakota because the taxes are lower and very favorable to RVers. If we buy new, we'll probably go for South Dakota.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
Thanks very much for checking in with us over the last few months.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Cheer!

We had a holiday gathering at church, work and in our neighborhood.
At church, we had a wonderful evening of friendly conversation and good food. Pam and I are helping with the military ministry social activities committee. We helped with the set up and had a few minutes to admire our work before everyone arrived. We had plenty of food and an excellent program that included some first class singing provided by the BASICs.
The highlight of the evening for me was meeting other military families and getting to know them a little bit.
Tom and his family are still in the Air Force, have two children--one of which goes to Baylor. And they spent significant time in Albuquerque. So we had a lot to talk about.
Scott is in the Army and has a brother in law who is involved with relief work and owns an RV. I am going to follow up on that one to see if his organization is a possibility for us some time down the road.

We also had a potluck at work. This year they decided to cater the potluck and have different foods on each floor of the building. Last year it was a traffic jam in our little cafeteria but this year it worked pretty well. The food was so good, that I spent the whole time in lines and eating and forgot to take more pictures.
Then to top off the last few days of get-togethers, our good friends and neighbors for some 'Christmas Pasta'. It was great! John and Gill have been the focal point of our neighborhood and they have had a number of social events which are always fun.
Some of us were downstairs watching golf and football, while others were around the dining room table engaging in animated conversation.
So that is another reason why I like the holiday season--events around food and friends spark a lot of Christmas Cheer!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One thing Pam and I have thought about when we RV full-time is volunteering fixing up or building homes.
We have wanted to check out for Habitat for Humanity for quite some time and it was pretty easy. We found a local Habitat for Humanity chapter and went through the information on their web site.
We took the online orientation training, contacted the coordinator and showed up at the work site where they were doing home repairs.
It was about 35 miles from where we live and bitterly cold. So we bundled up, had our coffee, and showed up at 8:00.

Dan was the on site coordinator and we got some instructions at the back of the materials truck and then looked inside they house. We had two crews working: one inside, one outside.
Inside, the ceiling in the kitchen and in the bedrooms need to be closed off after the insulation is put down.
Outside, our task was to finish the soffet on the front and back of the house.
Like most projects, it took a while to figure out a routine and set up a work flow. Gary and Brad were on the scaffold doing most of the nailing work. Meanwhile Pam and I used the table saw and skill saw to cut up 2x4's and vinyl soffet sheets into the right lengths.Once we got rolling it went pretty fast. We finished up by about 1:30 and declared victory. (Had to have a group shot with Gary and Brad). They were a couple of good guys and it was fun to work with them.

There is a lot more to do on the house, so we intend to help out again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You have 90 seconds---

A potential buyer will decide if they are interested in your house during the first 90 seconds they walk in the front door. After that, they are either being polite or they are interested and will proceed down their mental checklist.

We have lived in this house for 13 years. This is the longest that Pam or I have lived in a house. Our idea of what makes things appealing to a prospective buyer is quite different than what an objective person would say.

We want to sell this house. We also want all we can get for it. It's a tough market. We don't know enough. ---So we contacted the professionals, those that are currently successful at selling houses and those that are helping owners like us get ready.

We had our Realtor Jeff Royce come by with a professional stager -Patricia.
She walked through the house and took note of every room. She made some basic suggestions and will follow up with a complete list of recommendations.
We are prepared to put some real money into getting it sold. At first we thought we may consider purchasing the right picture, or a new appliance etc. She took us to the next level in our thinking.

My guess is that she will want to exchange all our pictures, photos, and other memories 'things' that cause a person to focus on the house only --and on open space. 'Space sells'
From the way she sounded, she could bring in smaller furniture, the right painting, window dressings etc. Also I am guessing all she will recommend repainting almost every room.
So it was quite a couple of hours! Are we willing to change? Are we willing to spend some $ in order to sell? Are we willing to let go....?

Commitment time again. How committed are we REALLY? Do we REALLY want to do this?....
It's one thing to get rid of 75% of our 'stuff' so we can fit move into an RV---
Every day it's more of a commitment...
So the answer is Yes! This is what we wanted to do. 18 months ago we could not foresee all of the 'uh oh' moments along the way. But I am sure there are many more to come.
We have been feeling pretty good about where we are in getting the house ready. We thought we were almost ready to put our house on the market. Now-- I don't think so. We have a lot of decisions to make and work to do.

It makes sense to us to spend a couple thousand $ in order to get it sold. Houses are selling, just not like they were. Some are selling because they are really lowball prices/foreclosures/short sales etc. A few homes for sale are getting a reasonable price in today's economic environment. So why shouldn't ours? I believe we can...we just need to find the mix of upgrades vs selling price.

We are still planning to put it on the market April 1. Jeff says the best chance a seller usually has is in the first two weeks after it goes on the market. Working with Jeff and Patricia will help us do that. We're waiting on her list of recommendations (with associated price tag). There is more to it and we'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Add a comment - they are a big deal to us

For a blog writer - it is very exciting to see someone write a comment. But I think many readers would be surprise to know that. But it is true.
I would if more would but just don't know how. It is very simple and I will try to explain in steps.
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
That's it! Hopefully you will now know how to do it.
If not, or if you have suggestions, please email me at:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tennessee Thanksgiving

We drove down to Maynardville TN on Thanksgiving morning. Adam wasn't able to go because he had to work on Friday and Saturday. Kelly was home from VCU. We arrived in the early afternoon and sat down to a very nice turkey dinner with Joan & Mike and Michelle and her two (Kayla and Noah).


IMG_3426The next morning Mike and I made a run into town to McDonalds for some coffee and stopped at Hammer's. Later in the day we we went to see Pam's folks who both live in Clinton.

IMG_3423IMG_3410 We were also able to stop by the Big Ridge State Park and the Norris Dam State Park to check out the facilities and see what it might be like if we stayed there in our yet-to-be-purchased RV. We also went to an RV Campground in Clinton that has advertised for workampers. Friday night we went over to Michelle and Jeremy's for a game of Monopoly and some 'Guitar Hero' moves. As usual, Jeremy cleaned up and beat Mike and I. Kelly and Michelle also got the tree up.

IMG_3441 IMG_3450 IMG_3448 We got up early on Saturday and made the 500 mile return trip to Fairfax VA in about 8 hours, arriving about 1:00. Nice trip but too short.