Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Big Thanksgiving Weekend

We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend.  Adam rode the train down from DC and stayed with Kelly in Norfolk, and we were in Virginia Beach ~ so we were all nearby.

It was a beautiful weekend and I was able to take a couple of bike rides.  The Virginia Beach boardwalk is about 6.5 miles from our campground which makes it a good distance for a ride.
 Thanksgiving day, 'we' got down to business and prepared some food.
Since Adam is a vegan, he put together a granola-squash-honey thing that was delicious.  Pam cooked some potatoes mashed potatoes we took to the group pot luck.

At the pot luck, I got to carve a turkey and everyone put their dishes out for a big spread.
 Meanwhile, Ryan was deep frying three other turkeys in the back yard.
They turned out great and was one of the favorites of the day.

One Friday, quite a few of the same group got together to do some decorating at the church.
 Along with the new curtains, we made a wire mesh Christmas tree for Angel Tree tags.
Up front, NOEL  was placed on the wall.
 I wish I had taken more pictures of all the help that was there...
While we were doing that, Adam was back at the RV studying.  Then we all went over to Kelly's and then out to eat at Razzo's which is a really good restaurant in Oceanview.
Razzo's is an Italian place with great atmosphere in the Oceanview area near Kelly's house.  After dinner we went back to Kelly's house and hung out for a while.  Adam was getting on the train heading back up to DC the next day and was spending his last night at Kellys.  I thought it would be a good time to get a family group photo for Christmas.  
But alas, it was not to be.  My attempts were thwarted…I quickly lost control and never got it done...

On Sunday, after church, a group went out to lunch and had a good time.

Yesterday, Pam and cleaned up, ran errands, packed up and got the coach all ready to travel.  We leave in a couple of hours for parts south and Florida in the next few days.

Our 7 weeks in Virginia has been great.  We especially enjoyed getting to see Kelly and Adam and our friends in Fairfax.  And seeing Adam and Melissa run the Marine Corps Marathon.  And getting involved here in Habitat for Humanity again.  And the beach and nice weather. And the golf and the…

Thanks for checking in again on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Hope you have a great week.  Until next time...  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Best Time of the Year

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Every year the few days around Thanksgiving seem to kick off the "Let's be nice to everybody" season.  I really like that and wonder why we can't be like that all year…

This time of the year makes me a little nostalgic and reflective.  This year is no different.
I am very blessed and thankful for the family I have.  I am keenly aware that everybody can't say that.  Pam is simply the best.  And I would not change one iota about our kids.  Adam and Kelly are two wonderful, great kids.  They are no longer kids --but you get the idea.  They bless us every day.  Thank goodness for cell phones and other technology that keeps us close when we are miles away.

I am  especially thankful for this life we are able to live.  Over the past 2 1/2 years we have had the chance to meet new people and reacquaint ourselves with some old friends and experience Americana from coast to coast and border to border.  In many ways I feel like we are just getting started.

We didn't know how this lifestyle would work out for the holidays when we started out.  But it has been great.  This year we are in Virginia Beach and Adam rode the train from D.C. to Norfolk last night.  He is a Kelly's place in Norfolk and they will be coming over later today.

We will join with Kelly's fellowship group from church and have a big Thanksgiving meal together later in the afternoon.  And I am looking forward to taking a picture of the turkey like I do every Thanksgiving.  It is part of the tradition.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions?

I don't know why we did that but my dad always took a picture of the Thanksgiving Day turkey (and Christmas too) while the rest of the food was getting cold and being put on the table….

Here's one I took years ago of the Thanksgiving Day turkey on the table:

I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you are with your family and/or friends at this time of the year.

Thank you for being part of our great adventure and taking the time to view The Roadrunner Chronicles and especially drop a note.  A very special 'thank you' to all of those of you that have 'Followed' or signed up as 'Friends' on the Roadrunner Chronicles ~ it is a big deal to know that you are out there….

Until next time...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Habitat Groupon Golf and Birthdays

Not knowing exactly what to call today's edition, I decided to 'focus' on four items:

Habitat for Humanity -
As you may know, we love working with local affiliates and are glad to be back in the South Hampton Roads area to work with some of the same group who befriended us here last year.  

Our latest assignment is an old house in nearby Portsmith that is being refurbished and redone.  
Our effort has been concentrated on the small back porch and deck.
What I loved about this project was that we got to learn about the whole thing from the beginning.  Joe measured out where the 4x4 foot posts went, we dug the holes, poured in cement, then we worked off that to attach the support runner from the house.   
It took us a couple of days and we are still not done, but we got the deck on and now are working on the steps, support posts and railing.

Pam and I also love to play golf and we have done that a few times while the weather has been good here.  I found a city course deal on Groupon.  $14 covered greens fees and carts so it was a bargain.
Also, we played three city courses in the area we normally would not have played:  Bow Creek,  Kempsville and Red Wing.
They are all on the rebound and the new management company that is managing them for the city is really doing a great job.  Apparently six months ago, they were in bad shape, but the new crew is really getting them in shape.

I loved them all but my favorite was the last one we played at Red Wing.  Pam enjoyed them also.  The thing I noticed is that they are not really long courses and they give the woman a 50-80 yard advantage off the tee box.  Their teeing area is well out in front of the men's but that makes it more fun and competitive for everyone.

We have seen some great deals lately on Groupon - Have you?  Do you use Groupon?

In addition to the Habitat and Golf, we have celebrated birthdays in the last couple of weeks.  

Kelly's friends from church usually get together during the week a couple of times and we joined up for a Sunday afternoon cookout and kickball time at the RV campground.  These 'kids' (late twenties are a great bunch and very welcoming to us.
In addition to Kelly and Pam's birthdays in the last few days, I think there must have been 5 or 6 other peoples as well.
It was a bit windy but we were able to eat and hangout and they even had a rousing game of kickball.  Some really got into it and it was fun.
Afterwards, we chatted some.
It was coolish so that didn't last long before everyone headed out.

We are thoroughly enjoying our time here in Virginia Beach and will be here two more weeks.  I love this time of the year and it is great to be near our kids!  Adam will be joining us next week for Thanksgiving and we are looking forward to it.

I hope you and yours are well and looking forward to the holidays also.  Thanks for joining on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Flag and Thank You Veteran's!

I know it isn't officially flag day, but every day is flag day for me... And Veterans Day seems like a good day for a post about the flag we fly outside our RV.  

I have always been an enthusiastic supporter of showing our flag.  I don't know why that is ~ maybe because my dad would put the flag out on special occasions when I was growing up.  I have been 'patriotic' ever since I can remember.  My dad spent a career in the Army Air Corps/US Air Force so I was always around flags and ceremony and have great respect and love for our Country.

My brother Marty was in the Navy during the Viet Nam war off the gulf of Tonkin.  Also, my brother Brad served in the Air Force and flew KC-135 tankers.  My brother-in-law Mike served in the Army in Viet Nam bull dozing air strips.  And I met Pam in the Air Force.  She worked on ECCM gear on AC-130/Spectre Gunships, MC-130/Combat Talon, and F-4/Phantom aircraft.  And I served 20 years, retiring from the Air Force in 1995.

And I know many of you have served or are serving.  I think it is a wonderful thing to support our military.  And I think it is due in a large part to George H.W. Bush.  He made it a priority to have parades and publicly thank our returning military members returning from Gulf War I.  Before that happened, I don't remember it being 'in fashion' to thank the military.  Now everybody does it.

I have always loved our flag.  I remember getting choked up at baseball games at college and high school baseball games in the 1970's. When we would rise to hear our national anthem being played to start things off, I remember saying to myself, "This is the best part of being here ~ being able to hear the national anthem being played".  Other than that ...I can't explain it.

Pam remembers getting the flag duty in grade school the day President Kennedy died.  She and some friends then had to go back out in the middle of the day and lower it to half staff.

When we moved to Virginia and bought our house in 1995, I bought a flag and decided to hang it out every day.  We had the All-American dream:  2.0 kids, a house with a two car garage, white picket fence, dog --- and a flag flying every day.

When we started full-timing in May 2009, we saw people who had flags flying outside their RVs.  Our favorite was Frank's.  We talked and he gave us some instructions and a build list to make our own.  Thank you Frank Cason.  He gave us some great plans which we modified a bit.

We had the plans for a few months before Pam finally took them and built our flag pole that we use almost daily.  And Kelly made the plans and diagrams that hopefully you will find helpful if you want to make one like this.
So here are the plans Kelly created from our notes/modifications and Frank's original drawings:  

The pole(s) come apart for easy storage.  And there are a few other things.
I picked up a 2' piece of rebar (from Lowe's) that I pound into the ground.  Then I put two 1" washers over the top of the rebar that slides down to the ground.  This helps the PVC pole swivel. 
Then I slide the assembled pole over the rebar.  As you can see here, I have an extra 3' of 1/2 " PVC leaning against the rebar.  That goes over the rebar (for a little strength) and inside the 1" pole.  
Note: The build list does not include the 1/2" pipe 3' long, 3' of rebar, washers, and eye screws.  You will also need a very small carbiner hook to fasten the flag to the eyelet screw.

The whole thing assembled looks like this:
Then the flags - the large US flag and smaller state flags and Canada flags:
The small flags needed a 'sleeve' that Pam sewed along the edge so that we can hang it sideways.  We pull out the bottom bar, slide it through the sleeve of the flag, and replace it into the T-joint.

If you can not enlarge the picture above or would like me to send you the .pdf file, let me know:
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chrnoicles!  And thank you veterans!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How To Lose 25 lbs…

I have wanted to do this post for some time.  This is not another story in a long line of diets or drink formulas or sales gimmicks.

The real truth of the matter is that I lost 25 lbs with my iPhone.  Yep - it even does that.

More specifically, I have an app that counts calories.  I am amazed that the secret to the success (for me anyway) is counting calories.  I have heard about counting calories for a long long time but never done it.

How about you?  What has worked for you over the years?

Back about 10 years ago Pam and I found some success with the Adkins diet.  I think I lost 17 lbs then.  But it was very stringent and not without controversy.  And I love some carbs now and then.

Then in the summer we went to see our good friends Steve and Theressa in Sioux Falls.  They have made dramatic changes in their weight, losing a combed 100 lbs.  They look great!  And are going for more. When I asked how them did it ~ she indicated she tracked the food she ate on an iPhone app.

The app is from  The online account synchs with your iPhone.  I mostly use my iPhone.
It is pretty basic.  I just enter what I eat for all my meals and snacks.  And I get more calories if I exercise.
Here is what it looks like on the iPhone app:
To begin with I register my age, height and weight and my target weight.  It asks how aggressive I want to be in achieved my target weight.  I figured 1 lb a week would be good.
I went from over a little over 180 to 165 in nine weeks.
All the literature I have read says my ideal weight is 155 so I decided to pursue that and got there in another couple of weeks.
It has changed my thinking about weight loss.  I can eat anything I want and now that I am where I want to be, I know how much I can eat to stay here.  It has also changed my eating habits and I snack about 1/3 of what I used to.  And I stay away from candy bars (Snickers), carbonated drinks (even the diet ones 'bloat' me).

The success has changed my thinking about food.  I don't want to get over-full any more.  I like feeling a  little lean.  I also was surprised how I didn't have a large amount of craving going on.  I was more interested every day in seeing if I could lose another pound, then another etc.

One thing I wish I had done at the beginning was buy scales.  We have not had any until recently.  I didn't start weighing in until I had already lost over 10 lbs.

So I wanted to share it with those of you out there who have thought about it and never really counted calories before.  It works.

In our RV lifestyle, it is a lot easier to put the pounds on rather than take them off with exercise and fresh air.  I thought it would be easier to do.

A word of caution:  though I my current daily calorie budget is 2194 calories, there have been days that I have gone over.  The key for me is not to get discouraged and not to cheat on my counting!  The scales don't lie.  And counting the calories tells a pretty good story.

Another thing:  I am very aware of is that weight lost does not mean fitness.  I can be where I want to be weight-wise and be very out of shape.  So I have to get in walks, runs and some time in the gym when we are near one.  I can also be in relatively good shape with lots of exercise and still be over my goal weight. I spent a lot of time over the years there...

That is it for today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  We'd love to hear your story so please share it.  Thanks for joining us today.  Until next time...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Roadrunner Financials - October 2011

    Roadrunner Recap
We spent the majority of the month of October in the Virginia Beach area after leaving Joan and Mike's place in Maynardville TN where we did some "mooch-docking".  We spent one nite in a Wal-mart parking lot en route to Virginia Beach and then spent the rest of the month at military RV campgrounds at Oceana Naval Air Station and at Dam Neck Annex.

Kelly (our daughter) lives in Norfolk and Adam (our son) lives in Washington DC so we spent a good amount of time seeing them during the month.  Normally when we see family, we like to take them out to eat, buy groceries and maybe buy a thing or two for their house.  We were able to build a shed for Kelly and install a counter top for Adam in his kitchen.

Here are the stops during the month:
  • Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground, Maynardville TN
  • Ocean Pines Oceana NAS, Virginia Beach VA
  • Sea Mist MWR Campground, Virginia Beach VA
Here's an interactive map that shows where we traveled.  You can click on the letters and it will tell you the location.  

Here's a static map if that is easier:

This is a snapshot of the budget for October 2011:

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget

- Gas (diesel). Our bill was low because we only had one fill-up.  We started the month in Tennessee and drove to Virginia Beach.
- RV Maintenance. We replaced our Select Comfort Bed motor/pump and I had a couple of RV projects.  Still we were under budget.
- Campground fees. Normally Military Campgrounds are about $20.  We got a weekly and monthly rate break and averaged $13.30/night.
Biggest Expenses

- Groceries/Food. We went way over budget on groceries and eating out.  But we usually do when we see family.
- Gas (car). we had a couple of trips to D.C. from Virginia Beach and a lot of commuting to Kelly's place.
- Internet. In May 2011, I upgraded my internet service to Verizon (from Autonet Mobile).  I went from $29/month to averaging over $165/month.  With an iPad, iPhone and laptop, I am still figuring out how to minimize my costs there.
- Medical.  We found a Groupon for dental and exam and checkup and then decided to get fillings and crowns done.
Large One Time Cost Items
We spent $104 on getting a replacement Select Comfort bed motor which was pro-rated.

Monthly Average

Monthly average for year 3 (starting in June 2011) - 
Yikes!  We are $2100 over our monthly average.  But we were able to save that amount and more so it didn't affect our cash flow.

We began our third year of Full-Timing in June.  Since then we have three big cost drivers:
  1. In September we installed a new $6700 residential-sized refrigerator which was not in the budget
  2. We spend more on food when we are near our kids and buy things for them.
  3. We decided to get dental work done.
So there it is for October 2011, our 29th month of Full-Timing.  Hopefully there is some information that is of value and/or interest.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!
I have often said this is more of a tracking tool and an estimate than a budget -- this month's spending proves it.  That's what our spending looked like for the month.  Thanks for taking a peek.  Hopefully they provide help or entertainment of some sort...  If you'd like a free copy of the spreadsheet I use, drop me a note and I will be glad to send it along.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!