Monday, December 29, 2014

Cold Weather Considerations

It hasn't gotten very cold here in Virginia Beach yet and we are OK with that.  But a few people near us have wrapped their water hoses and it looks like they are ready for freezing weather.  There is a pretty good likely hood of that so we went to Home Depot and bought some things to be prepared.
First thing we got was the 30" Frost King pipe warmer heat cable.  Then we got a 25' hose to go with the 6' water hose we already had.

And we got the five sections of 6' foam
Then I read the directions on the Frost King pipe warmer.  Something about "...not for hoses...".  Hmm.  Next I went next door and ask the fellow camper about that and he said, "Yeah, no big deal there, we looked it up and found out we just needed to wrap the hose in aluminum foil and its working fine".

OK - before we did that I wanted to check out the wrap sensor to see if was going to warm up as advertised.  Pam read the thing to do was to plug it in and put the sensor between a small bag of ice.  We did that and it heated right up after about 15 minutes.  Not hot, but warm.

Next step was to wrap the entire hose with tin foil.
Then we laid the sensor cord/wrap up against the hose and secured it with electrical tape every 6-10 inches.
And stuffed it all into the foam wraps and tape it up with duct tape.

Then I connected it to the water faucet
and the other end with the sensor to the regular coiled water hose in the wet bay.
I know there is a lot going on here but the 3 main things to note are: 1) The hose on the reel connected to the tin foiled hose 2) the heat sensor is plugged into an extension cord that I have threaded through the bays to an inverter outlet on the other side of the coach and 3) I also have addition drop lights in the wet bay turned on 24/7.

Once I close the bay door, the hoses are protected.
The rest of the hose has the foam wrap.
That's what the finished product looks like.  We've had it on there about a week now and so far no issues.  It only dipped below freezing one time since there.

We feel like this gives us another cold weather option and we wanted to see if it was feasible.

What other solutions have you seen to prevent hoses from freezing?  Or what do you do?
I'd be interested.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles and hope you are warm and enjoying things as we approach the new year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas to You!

During this time of the year it is easy for me to be reflective and think about all that has happened in our lives.  Its been a great year and 2015 looks even better!

We are in Virginia Beach for the next few months awaiting the birth of our first grandchild.

A lot has happened since this time last year, when we were in Seal Beach, CA.  From there in January have basically moved east, with stops to see family in Albuquerque, Fort Worth and Maynardville TN.
We also spent time in Pennsylvania, the DC Area, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Macon GA.  We also had stops in Red Bay AL to get some work done on the Roadrunner and had a short two weeks in Florida.

This gives a general idea of the route we took across the southern states.  We saw some spectacular sites along the way that were majestic, breath-taking and intense.

We took a lot of pictures but this one is among my favorites
The majesty of the Grand Canyon...

And getting together with my brothers and their wives

And through all the miles from the West Coast to the East, we are very aware of how fortunate to be doing this.  To be 'on the Road' so to speak.  Doing this allows us to connect and visit and see so many more people than we would otherwise.

That is one of the biggest gifts of all -- to be able to engage and have more of a relationship with family and friends and new friends.  So we are grateful and we wish you a

Merry Christmas 
Happy Holidays 
and a 
Prosperous New Year!

Thanks for joining us today and throughout 2014 on the Roadrunner Chronicles!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Know We Are Busy But ...

I think the closer to the end of December, I probably am not going to hit my goal of 31 posts in the month of December.  Sometimes you run out of ideas or energy or whatever.

The last couple of days we've been busy, or it seemed that way although not exactly sure what we did... Let's see

Yesterday we finished up the day at Kelly and Jon's with a nice fajita dinner of chicken grilled on the Big Green Egg.  Then we moved to the cozy back room with a fireplace and ample supply of wood burning away and watched 'The Jersey Boys'.  I thought is was a good movie and we enjoyed it.  Even though it has been out a while it was very interesting and entertaining.

Before that, Pam and I did some running around doing errands and Christmas shopping with stops at Sears, Costco and Home Depot.  Friday afternoon it felt like a few folks had left work early and it was pretty busy with traffic and all.

Prior to that we accomplished a main objective of the day which was to pull in the slides, raise the jacks, unhook and go over to the Automotive Center on base where they sell propane.  It was fairly easy to do and at $3.49 a gallon cost us $74.99 to fill up.

After a few weeks of this cold weather stuff, I think we are adjusting well.  Even though it was brisk outside with a high of 43, we were still fairly comfortable running around.  And inside, I think we have figured out the right mix and use of our electric space heaters along with the gas and electric furnace.

We decided not to use our gas furnace until it gets down around 35 or so outside.  Maybe that will prevent us from burning through the propane so quickly.  Inside, it is a very comfortable 68 ish.  We usually close off the back bathroom door.

In the middle of the morning, I got together with a friend for coffee and we caught up what's been going on with us and our families for the last few months.  Earlier, it was a typical early morning get up time for me and I did some reading and bought a couple of things on Amazon.  That site is very impressive.  And I like the delivery updates they sent via text message through the day.

The day before, we went over to Kelly and Jon's and did a couple loads of wash.  Pam painted some trim while I did some routine maintenance on our bikes.  We also ran around and did some errands after that.  Then we spent the evening at home for dinner and reading and watching some TV.

That's a recap of a couple of 'regular' days for us.  Nothing big and noteworthy here.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back to Work with the Red Hats

Yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting old and new friends at the Habitat For Humanity work site it Norfolk.
(Dennis, Meg and Russ in front of the steps right before the break for lunch)

It was fun to see some of the 'Red Hats' from our previous times with the group.  We first stayed in the area back in December 2010 and joined the weekly work over in Red Mill near Virginia Beach.  Since that time, many of the same men have faithfully continued working on new homes and renovations such as this.

We showed up at 8:00 AM after signing up on the volunteer web site.  After I registered, I was able to get to the calendar which gave the address for the work.  

This home was one that was bought from Bank of America for about $8000.  This was part of some nationwide settlement the government had with the bank concerning 200 homes.  This home is an older one and once it is complete, it will be sold on the commercial market.
That money will be used to either pay salaries for the HFH staff or fund other homes that will be built.

Some days the HFH volunteer work on site is exciting.  And sometimes it is nothing special but necessary things that need to get done.  Yesterday was such a day.

The first thing that got done was buttoning up a vinyl siding strip that had come loose and was hanging off the side of the building.

The main objective for the day was to put roof shingles on the small back porch.  But angle of the morning sun was not shining back there and the tar paper on the roof was wet from the fog and dew.  
So we turned our attention inside.  Pam first started spraying some foam and filled some holes in blocking.
Susan was scraping some old wall paper off
Russ and Jake removed stables and nails from walls and trim
Also upstairs, Meg worked on the staples that were left in the floor when the carpeting was removed in the demo phase.
And we also spent the better part of the morning pulling up carpet trim, tacks and staples from the first floor.
It was good to join up with the Habitat crew again.  We look forward to many more days of volunteering with them over the next few months.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Brooks' Baby Shower

Pam and I spent the day on Saturday running some errands around town while Kelly and Jon went to their Baby Class at the hospital.  Now with less than 10 weeks to go, things are picking up.  Sunday was the Baby Shower.  Jessica and Sarah hosted it and Pam did the cooking.
Except for the cake - Sarah picked this up.  It was chocolate and very good!
I helped with some cleaning and restocked the wood pile on the porch and cleaned out the ash trap in the chimney.  Then built a fire.  Kelly did the vacuuming while Jon was out showing some houses. (He's a realtor.)

Then people started arriving and the house started filling up in no time.
After everyone mingled for a while and grabbed some munchies, it was time for a couple of games.
The first one was 'Guess the Gestation Period of: ......"
If you guessed: 336, 360, 425, 63, 220, 266, 108, 624, 61 and 21 -- in that order, you'd be right!
Then it was 'pin the mustache on the baby'.  Guys spun around and took a shot.  
I think this is my first shot at a baby shower.  In our day, guys didn't go to such things.  For attending, the girls got a Starbucks gift card.  And for the guys?
Then everyone watched Jon and Kelly open gifts.  They were very generous and it was a fun time.
A highlight for me was to just get to know some of these young people a little better.  They are all into an exciting chapter of their lives and its just fun to interact with them.  We're looking forward to the next few months here.

It was a nice day and a great time to get together in anticipation of Brooks' arrival!
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

In Virginia Beach for a Spell

We left our R Holiday campground fairly early and
arrived in Virginia Beach on Thursday just before noon.  It was a bright and sunny day and a perfect one for a nice drive over from Selma, NC.
We were able to get into a spot that we have had previously.  We have 50 amp, sewer and electric and can get our DirecTV signal with no issues.  We even are able to connect with the campground wifi which doesn't happen often.
In September, we had a large tree behind this site, but that along with some others, have been removed.  My recommendation is they fix the pot holes/collections of water around the campground next.  I love those comment forms and use them.

We got set up and went over to Jon and Kelly's for dinner and catching up.  It was good to see them and the dogs.  We left here three months ago when it was pretty warm.  Things have changed and it is a little chilly but really pretty nice fall weather.

Pam and ran some errands yesterday around town and I did some more work online.  After an early dinner last night, we all went to a Christmas party and had a good time.  That doesn't always happen but it was at a Golf Course and had a nice atmosphere to it.

We met some folks and talked with some we knew and then came to the main event -- we all broke up into teams.  As we came in we were handed a card with a reindeer's name on it.  We all relocated to different tables where our teams were located.  Mine was Dancer.  We had six on our team.

Then for the friendly group events and competition.  First was building a ginger bread house.  Each table was given a 'kit' and away we went.  Timed event (5 minutes).  We started out way ahead and did pretty well with one of the higher scores based very subjective scoring. :)

Next was a skit, scene from a movie or song with a Christmas theme.  I don't remember many movies but I think it was a scene from a Chevy Chase (Christmas Vacation - 1989) movie "They want you to say Grace...".  We did OK on that one too.

Then we picked one among each team to get decorated like a Christmas Tree.  Some pretty good ones there.
The final competition was to pick a person and go out to the driving range in the darkness and hit a glow golf ball.  That was a hoot!  The catch to this "long drive contest' was that it was with a left handed 9-iron.

Somehow our team managed to squeak it out and we ended up with win in overall points.  It was great fun, a good way to meet some people and worth a Starbucks gift card.  I loved meeting these folks.  I meet a guy who is a policeman and another guy who is a software developer.

So that was our Friday.  Three and a half hours of driving to Virginia Beach where we will be staying for a good part of the winter.  The Christmas season is definitely underway and it was a fun evening.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Heading toward Virginia Beach

We had a four plus hour driving yesterday and found a good overnight stop along I-20.  Pam found a park called R Vacation.  They asked for a lot of details including how long the motorhome was and where the satellite antenna was located on the coach (front-middle-back).

They wanted to be sure they put us in a spot where we could get our DirecTV working.  I found this interesting even though we have cable here.  It just stands out as an example of how some campgrounds really try to accommodate folks and we appreciate it.

We left Augusta at a fairly good hour - before 8:00 AM.  After a couple of hours, Pam drove
and finished up the day's trip as we pulled into Selma, NC in the early afternoon.  The person in the office was nice and friendly.  Before we got there I had remembered that we have stayed here once before.

In April of 2013, also drove from Augusta after the Masters.  From there we were also going to Virginia Beach and we stayed at this very same campground.

Amber, the young woman at the desk, looked it up and found that we were already in there system and consolidated her records.  Then we paid for the one night stay and she swiped the credit card had me sign on her iPad mini.
That was a first!  Never signed into a campground in that way.  Pretty high tech!
This is another solid park.  It is a modest one which is systematically being upgraded.  Right now they are building a new clubhouse next to the swimming pool.  The roads are gravel and there are no pot holes.  The sites are level and the trees are trimmed so they don't gauge the side of the motor home.  It is open and easy to drive through the campground.  We'd stay here again.

We made it over to our site and set up.  It was supposed to get real cold again so we didn't bother to hook up the hose or connect the sewer.  While I was doing that I got to meet our next door neighbor John.  He's from the Boston area and had his new 2015 Newmar Ventana only a few weeks.  His battery on his Hyundai tow car had died a couple of times and he wondered if it was normal.

I told him that happened to us quite a few times before we finally figured out we need to pull the radio fuse each time we tow our Honda CRV.  We also have a set of 20' jumper cables we have used and a $30 battery charger we picked up at Walmart to jump the car.

We rested for a while, over to the outlet stores and got a call from long-time Albuquerque friends Bub and Winnie that they were already at the restaurant.  They were nice enough to get in touch with us last week when we indicated our intentions of heading to Virgina Beach.  We stopped here for the night since it was not too far from where they now live.

It was nice to see our friends again.  They have made some big changes since we saw them last in Mesa, AZ.  They are both now retired have done some traveling on the West Coast and North West before re-located over here to be closer to their daughter.

We don't mind being on the road but one downside is that sometimes friends get in touch but we have already left the area before we have a chance to say 'hi'.  Such was the case in Augusta when Paul (R Sanity RV Adventures) had a shout out and inquired about getting together.

It was one of those rare occasions when we had plans to meet up with our friends Bub and Winnie here last night.  We would have loved to work out something but we were already down the road when we got the note.  We've haven't met Paul and Marti yet but look forward to that one day.

That's how we spent our Wednesday in the Roadrunner traveling down the highway.  It was a very cool brisk day but we are getting the hang of long sleeve T-shirts, sweatshirts and keeping warm.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On to Augusta

We left the Anniston AL Walmart parking lot after a nice breakfast at the near by Chic-Fil-A.  Then it was out of town and one the road to Augusta.  We made it through the southern side of Atlanta with out incident.  Although it is not my favorite place to drive the motor home.  For some reason it seems, the traffic is heavier, the drivers a little more jump and the stress level a little higher going through there.
After a couple of hours or so, we stopped at a rest area along the way.  We had a Walmart picket out on the outside of Augusta in the town of Grovestown on Exit 190.  Oops - nice new shopping area and lots of parking and big signs that read: "No Trucks or RV Parking".

So our plans changed.  I had about 1/4 of a tank of diesel, so it was time to fill up.  I normally like to fill up when it gets below 1/2 so we were due.  We found it for $3.32 at a Pilot and filled the Roadrunner up.

Next we called Heritage RV Campground at Exit 194.  We drove about 2 miles and pulled up to the office.  For $25/night it looked pretty good.  Sites were level.  Even though it was a mix of older and newer sites, the campground is a good one.  Our site was easy to back into and had plenty of room.
Did I mention it was level?  That is a big deal with me.  That and no trees to scratch the motor home.  The owner was friendly and we got to talk to him for a while.  Things change around the first of April there with the golf tournament.  But for us it is a great option.  We've been way out at the Strom Thurmond COE Campground but the Internet and cell phone service is a little iffy.  And the prices were higher.  So I like this place and would recommend it.

After we got settled in we ran over to the other Walmart in town.  The Marines were out with their Toys for Tots campaign.  Santa was there and I got to shake his hand.
And a former Marine who was my age took my donation and slipped this 'coin' into my hand.  
Its about the size of a poker chip and an nice little momento.

Next, we went back to the campground and got cleaned up to have dinner with Marty and Diane (Jon's parents) at Cracker Barrel.
We had a nice time and got caught up on our kids and their kids and their other grandkids.  We were glad to be able to pop in on them and see them again.

We returned to the Roadrunner for a little TV and then called it a day.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In and Out of Red Bay

We were up early yesterday to get the Roadrunner over to Bruce Deaton's for some repair work for a couple of cracks at the top corner of the rear slide outs.
We talked a minute then, drove over for breakfast at Jack's, a regional fast food chain and local hot spot.  After some eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy,
we went over to the Tiffin Service Center and picked up a piece of scrap wood for a project at a later date.  Then we went back over Bruce's and check on the progress.  It was coming along nicely.  They had already fixed the cracks, put in a relief cut and covered them with a strip they were now painting.
It was still before lunch (supper in this part of the country) and we went over to the Tiffin Visitor Center, signed in, picked up some safety glasses and a badge.  Then we toured a couple of new motor homes that had a 'punch list' which included replacing some cracked tile.
Next, we went into the plant, and over to one of the lines and watched things for a while.
It never ceases to fascinate me when I see these motor homes being put together.  We were by the guys putting the bedroom and pluming for the bathroom together.  And we walked past the harness/electrical racks where they were pulling wirings and binding them up for different units.

And we watched one technician work on the whole front dash of a unit.  He said on a good day he can do two units.  On a 'bad' day he hustles and gets four done.
Next we went back over to the Allegro Campground, settled up in the off office and about 11:00 AM we went over to pick up the Roadrunner which was finished.  
I thought $200 for the body work and paint job was very reasonable.  

We drove 10 miles down the road to Vina to see Brannon Hutcheson at Custom RV.  
He was expecting us and right after lunch he looked at the rope lights and switches that working on the Driver Side.  We had them installed in September, but they only worked a few times before they quit.
But Brannon was up to the challenge and made short work of it.  He also worked on our tail lights and the connections and tightened them up.  And we were finished.  

Brannon told us his business was doing well and they average about one electric (residential) refrigerator a week.  He did one earlier in the day.  

He is also expanding and built a new building which will be ready after the first part of the year.
He is quite an impressive entrepreneur.  He is very technical, has a business mind and knows how to pull things together and make it happen.

We wanted to get on our way so we hooked up the car and left, heading east.  We took some back roads instead of all interstate and it was a very pleasant drive to Anniston AL.
Along the way we went through a neat town of Cullman with an old church that looked like something straight out of Germany.
We got into Anniston as the sun was going down, found a Walmart and parked the Roadrunner next to some big rigs.
We spend the night there and had no issues.  We went across the street for dinner at Chick-Fil-A.  Inside, we set up the Winegard satellite and turned on TV to see the Monday night football game and watched the Packers through the first half.
As per the RV protocol, we didn't open our slides or put down our jacks.  We had plenty of room to get around and do what we needed to before he went to bed.

It was a long but productive day.

Thanks for joining us on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!