Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I think of on April Fools Day

I have fond memories of my dad. He was a good guy and I remember putting sugar in the salt shakers on his birthday. It was on April 1st

There were four of us, but this shot is of my next oldest brother and I sometime about 1953. I'm on the right. Or was it the left?Not sure what we were doing but I saw this in the stack of photos I have scanned and aim to put together a whole book on these kinds of memories. (more on that another day)

Photos are great. Good times. He left quite a legacy. He'd be proud of the way his four boys turned out. He was a good man. A great example.

I was thinking of posting something like:
'We've decided to put our RV dream on hold!'
'We are freaking out and can't do this RV full-time thing...'


But I came across this instead and decided not to.
Plus we are still committed and excited about pursuing the RV lifestyle.

Hope you day is memorable.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

PT and Running

Part of preparing to launch into our RV adventure has been seeing doctors and dentists and getting prescriptions filled and all caught up. We are thinking it may be less convenient to get those kinds of things once we leave here in a few months.

I used to run a lot--like every day. I ran in high school and during my career in the Air Force and just love it. I ended up running the Honolulu Marathon once and the Duke City Marathon three times. One year I ran over 1,000 miles. But after I turned 40, things changed.

I was 41 at the time and training for the Marine Corps Marathon (1994). A week after an 18 mile training run we were out for an easy 8 mile run and I pulled a calf muscle. It was unexpected and I really pulled it. That was it for that marathon. I kept getting hurt more and more as I tried to comeback (Achilles tendinitis, three hammertoe repairs) and essentially quit. It was discouraging to run a couple weeks and come up lame.

But last fall my neighbor Gil, who is 66 (and completed a cross country 49 day bike trip from LA to Boston) said 'give me a few months and we'll have you back into your high school running shape'. I'm not there yet but I have hope.

We worked together on a training regimen but I could not get past the 3 mile point without severe soreness in my calf. So I saw the experts.

I went to a podiatrist, got new orthotic insoles and started seeing a physical therapist. (see picture of some of the staff and the facility.)
It has been a slow process but the PT is working. The staff is cordial and helpful. My main focus areas are increasing my flexibility, strengthening my calf muscles and running with better posture.
Each week I see evidence of recovery. Yesterday was one of my better runs so once again I am encouraged.
After the run, Pam and I got back to working on the house and deciding on how to price it and going over the 'net estimate' sheets. At this point we have less than three weeks before we put it on the market. More on that next time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Power of Webcams

You should try out web cams! They make a conversation a lot more interesting than the phone. When we hit the road in our RV, we anticipate getting in touch with family and friends often via the webcam. There may be some exotic 'for pay' applications out there, but I only use the 'freebies'. (Got to be thinking about being on a budget. A small budget...)

Last summer my desktop was getting old and slow, so I decided to get a new computer. I ended up with a Dell Studio laptop with lots of RAM and storage and a big screen. It also came with a web camera embedded in the top of the screen. Similar to a Mac.

Some of the software that came with it was Dell Video Chat. I downloaded it, installed it and got with my buddy Rudy. We hook up every so often to check in. It was pretty easy to set up and I thought it was great.Then I more or less stumbled on Google Video Chat. I thought that was better than Dell. I still use it at times. In fact, last night Pam and I did a session with Adam and Meghan. (He took some time off and went to be with her during her 4th of 6 chemo sessions.)
My friend Ed lives in Orlando. We have stayed with him and Candice many times since they moved there three years ago. He likes SKYPE so, we use that often too. With 11 million+ users, it is really something. Not sure how a system can support that kind of use, but it does.
My brother Marty showed me the best one yet! This application lets up to three people do a video chat at the same time. You can use this one two ways:
  1. Download and install the software like the others, or
  2. Just user your broswer; no download required. Click on the link on the right side panel of the blog
If you'd like to give it a try I think you'll love it. If you have already been using them, let me know and we can hook up sometime.

The more I use these kinds of things to keep in contact with folks, the more get over the idea that we will be 'out there in RV land on our own with no one to talk too'. There probably will be times when it gets lonely out there. But hey - sometimes it gets lonely here in the Washington DC suburbs!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Work on the House

We have under 30 days to go before we put our house on the market.

Selling the house is key to us getting underway. We decided we were not going to finance the RV and have a mortgage hanging over our heads. Given the current economic downturn, that seems like a good decision.

I am glad we chose to put the 'For Sale' date well into the future. We decided last September we'd put house on the market in April.
YIKES --it is almost here.
So we are 'busy beavers' getting rid of 'stuff' and getting the house ready.

After three weeks on Craigslist and not getting any action at our garage sale a couple of weeks ago, we donated the wall units to the Salvation Army. Hopefully they will find a loving home.
Meanwhile, work continues on the house. Pam tackled the bathrooms. She did a terrific job of scraping out the old caulking and replacing it. She also painted the bathroom which looks great. One more coat there and onto the last bathroom for new caulking.
Adam is in Canada for a week with Meghan while she gets ready for her next chemo session on Tuesday (this will be 4 of 8).
Since his bedroom is empty for a while, it is a good time to finish it. For years we have had a curtain over his closet door. I decided to go to change that and went to Home Depot. We already installed new closet doors in two other bedrooms so this will match those. Hopefully I will be able to finish that up today.
I think we are done with winter so we got some pansies to decorate the yard. I think you can't have enough flowers in a yard. Plus I think they will really kick in and be in full bloom in a couple of weeks. Just in time for the first prospective buyers!
The focus has obviously shifted for us. Instead of dreaming and planning for our RV lifestyle change, we are working as hard as ever on finishing our 'punch list' on our house. With interest rates coming down, Spring getting ready to spring we are getting excited!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Music on the Blog?

One thing I didn't think about when I added the music a while back was the bandwidth requirement. I just had a reader say it is an issue for his connection, therefore he passes on those blogs that have music.

Another think I wonder about is whether or not is is annoying? Instead of being interested (my intent) to see what song I have selected, some may be annoyed and search to find the turn off/pause button!

So I thought I'd ask the rest of our readers about the music on the blog page. What do you think: Should I
  • Remove it?
  • Keep it?
Thanks for the feedback!
Let me know -- I want to make this into something that works best

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Running at Burke Lake

Fitness is a challenge the older I get. When Pam and I venture off into RV full-timing, I want to be in fairly good shape. That's why I have been getting back into running a bit. Last fall I had the good fortune to meet up with my neighbor Gil who is a runner and wins local races in his age group.

Gil faithfully sends weekly emails to get us 'Boys and Girls' and/or 'atheletes' out for a run. We usually run at Burke Lake which is a 218-acre lake with fishing, boating, camping and a well maintained 4.6 mile trail that encircles the whole thing. It is a great place to run.
As Leader of the Pack Gil cajoles, encourages, shames and uses any other tactics that come to mind to get us out and running. It quite often works. Besides being good for us-- it is a lot of fun.
Yesterday was no exception. It was a comfortable 45 degrees when we met at 7:30. Actually (just for the record) all who responded to the email were there and ready to go at 7:23. Our usual ritual is to gather, stretch, warm up and/or hit the latrine-- then head out.

The payoff is to meet up for social time at the local Silver Diner. Pecan pancakes, chili omelets, oatmeal, coffee -- usually hits the spot. This is a picture of the group from yesterday.
Its fun to hear the latest of what's going on with folks: building a home in Ecuador, training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, getting houses ready to sell, a recent movie review......
Time runs out before we're done but its always a good time.Running at Burke Lake is fun when you have a good group to join up with and even more fun when we end up at Silver Diner!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Potential Jobs

Retirement? "You guys are too young to retire! You can't check out yet! How long can you play golf and hang out on the beach? Won't you be bored?"

We were thinking about those things long before we heard them. Some friends have asked questions, some have just thought them...

Pam and I aim to be working when we hit the road in our RV. Some work will be 'for pay' while other jobs will be something we want to be doing as volunteers. Here are a list of 10 potential jobs we could see ourselves doing:
  1. Habitat for Humanity - We have thoroughly enjoyed our time volunteering locally at two different chapters (Prince William County and Loudon County VA). I signed up for a build in Santa Fe in September with Care-A-Vanners.
  2. NOMADS - This is similar to Habitat except it is a ministry of the Methodist Church. Volunteers show up at a church, campground or other site from all over the country to volunteer. Wycliffe Associates is a similar possibility I blogged about a few weeks ago.
  3. Independent Personal Consultant - I am just getting my digital photo/storybooking business (Heritage Makers) off the ground. Who doesn't have a digital camera these days? This could grow into some extra income with books, greeting cards, calendars, etc to add a few $$ to our budget. More to follow on this.
  4. Business Consultant for a Non-Profit - my current company has a policy of allowing personnel to work from home if they have an engagement that works for the client. I have been discussing this with my Associate Dept Head and have some part time work lined up that could extend to a few hours after we hit the road in the summer.
  5. Project Manager - short term (two or three months) job as an IT PM. Before Pam and I settled on pursuing RV full timing , I was looking for a PM job in Virginia Beach or Orlando. I posted my resume on and and some others. I was surprised how many responses I got for short term work. I got a call last week from a head hunter so there are some possibilities.
  6. Golf course - 10 years ago I went to work on the weekends to mow greens at a local golf course where Pam and Kelly both worked part time. I worked at Santa Fe Country Club in high school and loved it.
  7. Red Cross - Sean and Louise were telling us about there volunteer work in Mississippi and how they got real involved after they began full timing.
  8. Adjunct professor - Years ago when Pam went back to college to finish up her degree at Wayland Baptist University, I also taught American Government. I thought I could try that again and teach business, project management or American government at a community college or university. A running buddy does that now and got me thinking about it.
  9. Custom made golf clubs - in the early 1990s I launched 'Playoff Golf' which was my hobby business to sell custom made/knock off golf clubs. It was fun and I was almost making some money at it before we moved from Albuquerque. I was shipping clubs to California, Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, the United Kingdom and it was a lot of fun/work.
  10. Campground host - We definitely want to get experience at National Parks, State Parks, US Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers and/or Bureau of Land Management locations as campground hosts.
We definitely look forward to hitting the road and have been researching different kinds of jobs. One day I guess we will actually retire but not yet. One of the driving forces for me in changing our life and lifestyle is finding things we can do together.

And we anticipate getting underway in the next few months...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Garage Sale

Garage Sale - Moving Sale - Yard Sale No matter what you call it this the chance you have for other people to pay you to carry off your old stuff. How great is that idea?

There was 7 inches of snow on the ground last Sunday but today it got up to 72 degrees. It was Great! There was no rain or wind so it was a perfect spring day for it.We were supposed to start at 8:00 but the first customer came by at 6:30. I had just finished putting up eight signs to direct folks into our portion of the subdivision. It worked--there must have been 50-60 people that came by to see what we had.By 9:15 we figure we had made $22.00. Nice! Now if someone would fall in love with the $300 wall unit. Maybe someone from Craig's List will call....Things picked up and when we shut it down at 1:00 we had sold a lot.
  • The three golf bags went for $55 and
  • The mountain bike sold for $40.
  • Grand total: $190.55.
We were pleased. Stayed tuned for the next one: April 11. We figure we'll have one more and pass out flyers and realtor business cards announcing the sale of our house on the 16th.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Snow to Sunshine

Once we get on our way to RV full timing, we hope to avoid drastic changes in the weather. Pam and I are partial to sunshine and warm weather. We have have a relatively mild winter here in Virginia. That is fine by me...

But we had to have a big snowstorm for the year and it came down hard and quickly. All I can say is I am glad my neighbor John has a big heart and likes to run the snow blower... :). He saved me a lot of time on the sidewalks.

What a difference a few days make. This was Sunday:
This was Thursday:
Yep - the crocus are blooming in the flower beds. We have 41 days before we put our house on the market so the flowers will be good. We will be adding more and probably pulling weeds this weekend. It is supposed to be 72 degrees!

Great weather coming for a Garage Sale!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Going Through Phases...

For years we have been thinking about where we want to live after our time here in northern Virginia. We considered NM, Texas and Florida. Meanwhile, we started thinking about what it would be like to live in an RV--then we could live all over the country.

This idea is very much a progression. I feel like we have been through a number of phases and are now in phase #4. With the house going on the market next month, we are moving with purpose through painting, carpeting and downsizing. The 'home' we have known for so long is not the same. It's almost like getting a new job and having a different office--things are OK, just different.

We have experienced a wide range of emotions and thoughts: it is exciting, hard work, purposeful, risky, fun. It requires that we be sure about our faith, a sense of calling, a choice to live at a certain level of income and core values of what is important to us.

Here's my take on our progression. From 'Curiosity' to 'On the Road'
  1. Curiosity - we began looking at RVs as a point of curiosity. It was almost like walking through neighbor's Open Houses. That phase probably lasted a couple of months.
  2. Interest - we got more and more enamored with the idea. We kept going to RV shows and then stopped a few RV dealerships and started asking a lot of questions. This phase took about two or three months.
  3. Decision - we came to a point and said, 'let's figure out how we do this'. We discussed the reasons 'why' and 'what will we do with our time'? We became more committed after we decided to be debt free. That means selling our house. We decided we will continue to work part time in some capacity for pay and as volunteers. I think we decided to 'go for it' after about six months.
  4. Preparation -this phase has been the longest for us and like a new hobby. We researched and developed a game plan which has included visiting 33 RV dealerships in 10 states, driving 13 diesels, researching which state to live in for tax purposes and fixing up our house so we can sell it. Plus a lot more. A whole lot more. Creating this blog as a way to keep in touch of people has been a part of it. We have been preparing for about a year and a half.
  5. Transition - we decided on a time table and developed a list of things we have to do including major downsizing. Downsizing has been the test--are we committed to this or not? How are we going to fit what's left of 30 years of stuff into 400' square feet? We also will become residents of South Dakota and set up a mail forwarding service. Once the started making major changes to the house and got within three months of selling it - we entered into this phase. I think we will be in transition for the next many years.
  6. Buying - we have picked out the make and model of our future RV. If the right deal comes along within the next few months on a 2007 or later model, we would use a home equity loan and buy the RV before we move out of the house. Not likely but a possibility.
  7. Moving - after we sell the house we may have to move in temporary quarters for a few weeks while the new RV is built. Then we would relocate all our worldly goods into the RV.
  8. On the Road - once we take possession of the RV and leave the area the new adventure begins!
More to follow...stay tuned!~

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Volunteers in Orlando

One of our goals is to be regular volunteers once we begin RVing full time. We made it a point during our recent trip to Orlando to go and talk to the volunteer coordinator at the USA Headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators.We have friends who work nearby and they let us know that there was an RV Park at Wycliffe We found the RV Office at the volunteer building. We timed it right --- 10:00 coffee break. Lots of folks rode their bikes up to the building from their work areas. The RV Office is right across the street from the RV park and the Campground host site.

We spent about an hour talking with folks and got some information on the park and the work activities. Right now most of the work crew is helping with the construction of a new building close to the headquarters.
We think we could fit right in.