Friday, February 27, 2009

A Memorable Evening

Pam and I were married in Fort Walton Beach in February 1979. WoW! It has gone by quickly! I could go on and on but I'll just say that I've always felt like I am the luckiest guy in the world.

For our 25th we went to Hawaii. That wasn't in the budget this year but we wanted to do something special.

We ended up at one of the top restaurants in the area:
L'Auberge Chez Francois.
It reminded us of our time in Europe years ago. The setting and the atmosphere was excellent.
This restaurant is a top rated one in the Washington area. We decided to go all out and order the Chateaubriand for two. We started with a standard French bread and a garlic herb. I really liked the chive butter that came with the garlic bread. Next we had a small portion of a quiche made of cheese, spinach, tomato, ham and bacon. We also had French-onion and mushroom soups. Maybe the best I've ever had.

Following the soups we had green salads with a tasty vinaigrette dressing. The main course came on a silver platter served up by the head waiter. It was a spectacular presentation of tenderloin, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, beans an
d asparagus. The glass of French Merlot was considerably better than what I normally have. We had a small serving of chocolate ice cream dessert to top off the evening.
I doubt we will be back anytime soon, but it was memorable evening at L'Augerge Chez Francois.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Habitat at the Williams Home

Pam and I volunteered again for a home remodeling project in Prince William County. We arrived at 8:00 on Saturday morning, met some others and started working.

The assignment for the day was to replace five windows. The new windows were double paned vinyl. When done properly, the old window and casing can be removed and the new window fits right in.
To make it a bit of a challenge, all the windows we worked on were on the second floor requiring one of the guys on the ladder working with someone in one of the bedrooms upstairs.
There was also some painting that needed to be done on front porch columns that replaced rotting ones.
It was a lot of fun, we learned a lot, and the work went quickly. It helps when you work with people who know what they are doing.
When it was over, we took a group shot and vowed to return another day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Chili Cook-off with 'Pollo Flamados'

Our 'Pollo Flamados' team entered the annual Chili Cook-off contest. We competed against eight other teams. Last year Max's (our Top Chef and team lead) White Chicken Chili recipe took top honors. This year I decided to document our winning ways.
First, we met at Max's house to make the chile. We got the chicken stock and ingredients going while Jim ironed the chef aprons and put the team logo on them.Then we diced the world-famous Hatch Green Chile, cubed the specially marinated and baked chicken breasts, worked the sour cream into the chicken stock and created two huge pots of
delicious chile.
The chile finished cooking and was placed in the refrigerator overnight, then transported to the cook-off the next day. Our table was suitably decorated with festive balloons and smiling servers.
We had plenty of taste tests and camaraderie around the serving table.
Once it began, we had long lines and dished up a lot of bowls of chile. We took a minute to pose for a couple of pictures and then continued serving. Meanwhile, judges came by and scored each entry. Incredibly, someone else won the competition! What's up with that? :)

After it was over, we packed up, rolled up the decorations for storing and began planning our entry for next time! Though we didn't win this time--one out of two isn't bad. ?Maybe we can make it two out of three?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taxes and choosing a state of residency

We are going to become residents of a state that has low taxes. When considering which state, we looked at personal income tax, sales tax and tax on Social Security income.

Currently there are seven states that do not have tax personal income:
  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
Sales tax varies a lot from state to state:
Then there is the tax on Social Security: (note not all states shown below)
There are a few sites that have some good information on taxes. One is Retirement Living Information Center. I like the way Jaimie Hall-Bruzinak explained it in her blog that I regularly follow: RV Home Yet? I also checked out Alternative Resources in Sioux Falls, SD.

The states that we seriously considered were: Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and South Dakota.

After all our research we have determined the most RV-friendly state to make our domicile for us will be South Dakota. It is entirely an individual choice. There are many tradeoffs and considerations. Others chose different states for very valid reasons.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's not a business but these things still make a lot of sense...

One of the most useful things we have done is make up a contact card.After talking about this for months and months, we found ourselves trying to explain to people what we are doing with this 'living in an RV thing'. Often we ended up getting their name and phone numbers and giving them ours.

In September, when we were getting ready to go to the Life on Wheels RV conference with 150 other RVers, I knew we would be meeting a lot of people and thought it would be good to have a card. So I designed a card and passed it around. It came in quite handy.

Let's just say my daughter was nice enough to say, 'Let me give it a shot dad...' . I think she did a pretty good job so we went with what you see here. We especially liked that part where she took a few liberties with PhotoShop and 'slimmed me and mom down a bit'.

After a quick trip to Kinkos and a few days later, we were all set.

So how about you? Do you have a card?

Test Driving a 42' Phaeton in Juniper, FL

I figure we are about 3 or 4 months away from making one of the more significant purchases of our lives - our new home (RV). But--if we find the right situation, we could change our plans.
So, we are checking out used RVs to see if they make more sense than buying new. We have been thinking about a 42' Phaeton wanted to test drive one out while we were in Florida.We found this RV on TiffinRVNetwork classifieds. We contacted the owner and drove 130 miles from Winter Park to Jupiter FL to test drive it.
They have taken very good care of it and it is in very good shape. It has pass-through storage underneath along with the fuse box, sewer hookup, inverter, battery storage and LP gas compartment.One thing I was interested in finding out was the actual storage capacity and how it compares with the 40'. Because the 42' Tiffin Phaeton has a tag axle (making it two axles in the rear) there is a bit less storage underneath.
Inside, there is a lot of space for office material, dishes, coffe pots and a whole lot more. The big change inside was the extra space in the bathroom and in the bedroom.
The big difference was in the driving. Pam and I both took a turn at the wheel. It seemed to be a little more substantial/stable than the 40' rigs we have driven.
We took it out on a fairly busy street and also performed some turns in a large church parking lot to see how it maneuvered. It handled nicely. One thing I noticed with the 360 Cummings engine. It seemed to have a lot of power that kicked in quickly. I have driven a 400 Cummings in a 40' rig that was sluggish so that surprised me.
It was great to give it a drive and get a good idea what it would be like to own one.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

No Workamping at Walt Disney World

At least not at the moment. We looked for information for months and found very little. This was a tough one to crack.

We are interested in working part time at Walt Disney World on one of the golf courses. A favorites has been the Magnolia Course where they play the PGA event every year. I talked with a couple of people who worked in the Pro Shop and both had transferred from another job at Disney. It took one person over two years to get a position.

Even in the rain it would be a good place to work. As you can see there wasn't a whole lot of activity that afternoon...
Another thing we'd like to do is work at their RV campground (Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground).There is not a whole lot of information out there on the internet. We checked online forums and looked for websites. Since we stayed in the area during our recent trip, we went to Disney World Casting and spoke with personnel there.

Bottom line: Unfortunately, they are not hiring now and there are no intra company transfers.

But - to get your name in the queue when things open up, go online to: Disney World Jobs and fill out the online application. If you happen to be staying nearby, go by the Casting Office and let them know you are interested and patiently waiting.

The Casting Office is across the street from Downtown Disney:At least we found out the real information and satisfied our curiosity. We now know how to apply for a job at Disney, but the chances don't look good. Maybe that is why we had a hard time finding any information on the subject.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cold windy snow and ice or warm weather in FL?

We traded the cold, ice and snow in Virginia for some warmer weather. Last week it was cold and nasty. Inevitably, the snow hit along with some ice and below freezing temperatures.
The good news was that we got to head south and spend a few days in Florida. Though it was a bit cool at times, we had some wind and it rained one day for a couple of hours, we were still had a great time. One day we checked out a used RV and another day we were able to get out on the golf course.
Best of all, we were able to spend some time with our good friends Ed and Candice. We go back 35 years to our days at Arizona State. Our accommodations were exceptional.
Sunday night we chilled out and took in an exciting SuperBowl game. It was over too quickly but we look forward to the next visit.