Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend Projects

As you may know, we love to do projects around the house.  At least those around someone else's house.  We got the chance to do that over a couple of weekends when we visited Adam and Melissa in Fairfax.

Their townhouse needs some things done that make it more and more 'theirs'.  One thing they did after they moved in was pull up all the carpet and expose the beautiful wood floors.  They also had some wall paper they wanted to remove.  Pam and Adam jumped on that project.  The wallpaper wasn't your standard paper type.  It was something else that was raised, had some designs in it and was the color that made it look a little like metal.
Fearless Pam took a look and treated it like regular wall paper.  She got a plastic putty knife, a water spray bottle and away she went.  The first layer came off pretty well but the adhesive was still on the wall.  The goal here was to take it down to the bare wall and not damage the sheet rock.
After a couple of hours of elbow grease with some TLC, Adam and Pam got it all off.

They let it dry a day or so, then Pam put two coats of paint on it and it looks just like the other walls.
You can see the paint line and the difference from the painted to unpainted.
While that was going on, I was downstairs in basement/laundry room/work shop area. We talked it over and decided to put in a small L-shaped work bench in the corner.

We measured things out and decided we could come up with a surface area of 2' deep, 6' across the back and 4' down the side.  With a shelf using the same dimensions, it only took 1 sheet of plywood 3/4' thick.  We also got some 2" x 2"s for support/legs and 1" x 2" for trim.
Then we secured a 2"x 2" across the back and side 30" from the ground and we were on our way.  We got the sheet of plywood cut to the right size at Home Depot before we left the store.
We went slowly and tried to fit the shelves and posts in place before we secured them.  Then it was fairly steady going and a couple of hours later, we had a workbench!
We love doing these things and enjoyed our time with Adam and Melissa.  More projects to follow...

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles today!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friendly Weekend and Week

We made the three hour drive again this past weekend north to Fairfax Virginia again to see son Adam and fiancee Melissa.  We packed lunches and ate along the way after getting on the road a little after 9:00 AM.
It was a bright and beautiful day and the traffic wasn't too bad along I-95.  It was busy, but then I-95 is usually always busy! We filled up in Fredericksburg about 1/2 there and stopped in to see old friends Jeff and Tiffany in Fairfax Station.

We had a nice visit with them and got to see some upgrades they had made on their finished basement / den area.  Tiffany picked some nice colors, did a lot of painting and moved some things around which turned out really well.

Next we went over to the Chantilly RV show that was last Fri/Sat/Sun.  We wandered around a little bit and didn't stay too long.  This year's event was held in one Expo Center building.  10 years ago (or more) when we first started going to these) the show was help in two Dulles Expo Center buildings
but one of them is now a WalMart.  So there were not as many displays and RVs as we have seen in the past.

After a short stop there, we went Adam and Melissa's place and started to work on some projects.

Quite a while back, I got an email from a reader in Maryland who indicated they too were looking at the RV full time lifestyle.  He (Dave) and wife Pattie were looking to hit the road in the summer time after selling their home and getting things in order.

Over the past few weeks we have continued to correspond and they indicated they were going to be at the Chantilly RV show this past weekend.  I left Adam and Pam to work on his place while I met them for lunch in Chantilly.
It was great to meet them and to hear their story and think again what it what it was like to be in the preparation mode.  It really is an exciting time with lots to do and plan for.  They couldn't be nicer folks and we have a lot in common.  Including a 2007 Tiffin Allegro Bus.  They got theirs last fall and have it in their driveway until they hit the road.

Dave just started an RV blog which can be found here:
Stop by and say 'hi' - I am sure they'd appreciate it!

We spent all day Saturday and Sunday working on Adam and Melissa's place and built a workbench and pulled down some wallpaper and painted.  And built some shelves in the closet and hung some blinds.  It was productive and we love doing that kind of stuff.

We drove back down to Virginia Beach and got started before noon.  We again stopped in Fredericksburg for gas and then went over to Burger King for lunch.  To our surprise Roger and Phylis were finishing up.  We first knew them 20+ years ago in Fairfax.  There kids and ours were about the same age.

Roger and Phylis relocated to Fredericksburg about 8 years ago.  He is now retired and she is a school teacher and doing some great things with a kids after-school program.
It was great to run into them.

We got back to the Roadrunner and all was well so we were glad about that after being gone for a few days.

Later in the week, we ran some errands and ended up in Costco around lunch time.  We went with the 'lot of food for $4.00' menu and got a slice of pizza, hot dog and a coke.  While eating there the older lady next to us made a comment and we didn't think much about it.

After we finished, I said something to her and we got to talking.  She was the sweetest lady!  Her name was Mary Lou (for Mary Louise) and she is 80 years old.  She grew up in Virginia Beach and is a life long resident.  She was there at Costco because 'it is good for her to get out and have some social contact'.  ? What?  She said her husband drops her off there and she sits in the Costco food court area and watches people and talks to some and gets some 'social contact'.

She told us about her Portuguese and Irish background and how the family ended up in Virginia Beach.  She doesn't get out much since she fell and broke her hip.  She now uses a can and forces herself to do this and meet people.

It was a highlight of my day!  Pam and talked with her for about 20 minutes and then picked up a few things.  We circled back by the food court to see if Mary Lou was still there, but she had left by the time we got back.  I think every time we are in Costco, we'll be looking to see if Mary Lou is there.

And then yesterday Pam and I went to our favorite restaurant in Virginia Beach:  Nick's Raw Bar and Grill
It is owned by a friend of Jon's boss and has been around over 30 years.  They have good food, a friendly atmosphere and good prices.  I think I've been to it 5 times already in the 6 weeks we've been here.  And I'm sure we'll be eating again there soon.  On Friday Pam and I met Jon for lunch and met one of the waitresses - Chookie "like Cookie with an 'h'".  She's probably been there 25 years and was telling us about the ceiling tile.

When a customer wants to paint one up, they can have a blank one and then when they bring it back they replace a blank white one with the painted one.  A unique local touch!
And it was nice meeting another friend - Chookie.

In fact, where would we be without our friends?  Our old friends and meeting new ones?  I love it when I meet new people and see old friends.  And the last week has been one of those!

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!~ Thanks for joining us!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lessons Learned - Frozen Pipes etc

I am guessing it is or has cold where you are if you are in the upper half of the country.
And it has been cold here too in Virginia Beach.  Here's my account going back and forth between thinking about things and what I did in our most recent episode.

Since we are here, I want to learn how to do this cold-weather-camping smartly.  I want to learn to adapt and live in the cold weather if we have to.  We will be here for at least a couple more months through the coldest part of the winter.

Here is what I am learning about living in our motorhome in freezing weather.
- First thing we want to do is get our mind right.  Think through it for a minute.
-- It helps to have a good attitude.  Complaining, whining and all that doesn't help things.
-- I need to remember, this is camping.  Camping is inconvenient at times.
-- The rewards outweigh the hassles.  (It does for us and just adds to the adventure...if that's the right word to use.)

- I take the position that we have a lot to learn and I will probably make some mistakes.  Despite our best efforts, some things may not work.
- Even I try to do the right thing, I may not quite get it right.

My mistake(s) from a few weeks ago?

I have two mechanic lights in the wet bay, but when I pulled out the tray with the ladder in it. In the process the electrical extension cord came loose.  It was plugged into my inverter outlet in the front bay and threaded through stuff to the wet bay.  But I did not think to go back to the wet bay and ensure that both lights were on.  When I looked at things after it became evident that things were frozen, I saw my mistake.  My extension cord was unplugged.

Other things I try to tell myself:
-When I think of something else that can be done - do it ASAP
Pam suggested I take one of our small ceramic heaters and put it in the wet bay.  I did that in the darkness of the morning shortly about 6 AM.  The sooner I get heat blasting onto the water pump, the plastic pipes and the area, the better.
-Since I inadvertently disconnected the extension cord that was threaded underneath through the bays I found another solution.
I decided to use the 30 amp circuit on the pedestal for the extension cord.
I needed a 110 adapter and then made sure the heater and lights in the wet bay were on.

- We also looked at the water pipe and faucet coming out of the ground and with the help of the Camp Host, we wrapped it up with a heated cover, plus a blanket, along with a small tarp.
That seemed to work pretty good.
- I picked up some home building blue insulation a few weeks back and decided to try to tape it around the wet bay pan.
It is not pretty, but seems to do the job.

One thing I find useful is thinking through things and taking it to the logical conclusion.  I ask myself, 'What's the worst that could happen?"  Frozen pipes.  Frozen tank.  Repairs.  $$$.

- Not sure what we'd do with frozen pipes but that can be fixed.  We'd figure it out.  We'd find out where the leaks are and see if we could replace them ourself.  If not, we'd find a motorhome repair shop and take in.
- Same thing with a cracked or broken water tank.
- Or a cracked shut off valve from the clear water tank.

Yikes!  That is exactly what we ended up with -- A cracked shutoff valve.

Once I determined we had no water coming from the hose, we traced the issue back to a frozen pipe near the reel.  I thought some how it would help things to get water flowing through the clear water tank think some of it might flow into the pipes and maybe melt some of the ice.  So I tried to drain the clear water tank a bit.  Instead, though I thought I was turning it very easy, I somehow managed to break/crack it.

When I put the knob back into the shut position it still trickled out and I knew I had a problem.  I shut it back off and used duct tape to hold it in place before it completely broke.  And it water wasn't surging out of there at the moment.
Next, I did some research on shut off valves for RVs.  After a few phone calls to Tiffin, a local dealer and visiting Home Depot, I learned I could replace the ball shutoff valve with a standard one from Home Depot.

I also learned:
- Use PVC not CPVC for the extension of pipe going from the bottom of the shutoff valve through the floor of the Wet Bay pan.
- Get PVC not CPVC glue.  The purple cleaner/prep is the same but you want to use the correct glue.
- Pay attention to the outside temperature.  It was 38 degrees when I was making my repair and the glue (the wrong CPVC kind I had, wasn't going on too well.)
But I was committed at that point and used it anyway.
- If mostly worked.  A 95% solution. I had a very very slight amount of water drops coming out.  I used 'Rescue Tape' for that and wrapped it up tightly.  No water leaks.
When it gets warmer I will probably re-do the glue and pipe extension.

For now it doesn't leak and we are in good.  We filled up the water tank again and have plenty if it gets really cold again and we need to shutoff the outside faucet.  I don't envision that happening again since we have the heated hose wrap working well and the faucet covered up.

Another series of lessons learned and no leaks.  In cold weather.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Four Weeks in Virginia Beach

We've been in Virginia Beach now for about four weeks.  It's been great and we really had a wonderful holiday.  Hope you did also, where ever you may be.

The last few weeks have been quite fun actually.  Especially the Christmas time.  It was cool but not freezing cold and we had the great situation where we could all get together.  Adam and Melissa drove down and stayed at Kelly and Jon's for a few days.  It was nice.  Just hanging out and watching some holiday movies together.

Then - last week, we did some work on some projects over at K&J's house and had dinner together a few times.  On New Years' we watched the Rose Bowl Parade and enjoyed getting together with some of their friends.

There have been some projects that we have been chipping away at like toy boxes and remaking closets and doing some baseboard and molding.  Back here at the Roadrunner, we've cleaned out the whole inside with scrubbing the floors, vacuuming and shaking out all the rugs.  I even got the courage to unclog the bathroom sink and took the U-trap out and cleaned out all the gunk.

On top of the Roadrunner I swept off some pine needles and cones and check to see if any water is collecting in the toppers over the slides.  Nope - looks good.  The insulated hose with the heated wrap is working fine and I am into 'tank management' now preparing for 16 degree weather the next couple of nights.

By that I mean, I have filled up the clear water tank to about 85% and I have only emptied the grey and black tanks to at least 50%.  Today we went to the laundromat and washed a big wool flocati rug from the baby's room and also washed our big bed spread.

I guess the one of the things I have liked most about the last few weeks is the chance for a little one on one with some young men.  Nothing like an hour or so to chew the fat and hear what is going on in the lives of different 20 and 30 year olds.  Fun stuff.  One thing I like to ask is what they have been reading lately or what apps they have on their smart phones and also how the job is going in general.  Every one is unique and has a different story.  I love hearing them all and glad I have the chance to do some of that.

Also in the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of reading and just finished Grisham's 'Sycamore Row' which I enjoyed.  And I have a few other books going.

Looks like it may snow a little on and of the next couple of days.  We are planning on spending the weekend up Fairfax and it may be also be cold up there.  After wondering for a while if my blood was ever going to thicken up, I think it is.   We are dressing in layers and getting used to it.

A little over five weeks and we are due to be grandparents.  That has been a real joy already -- just watching Kelly and Jon getting ready for it.  She's doing fine and they both seem like they are not too overwhelmed with the idea (although they confess they do have those wide-eyed "Do you realize there is going to be a baby in this house in a few weeks?" - kind of moments.)

We are all getting pretty excited and yet are in no hurry -- and also want to take in this preparation time too.

That's about it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles - thanks for checking in!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Roadrunner Financials - December 2014

Roadrunner Recap
During the month of December we were in the following locations:

  • Grand Ole Opry Campground - Goodlettesville, TN
  • Tiffin Allegro Campground - Red Bay, AL
  • Walmart Parking Lot - Anniston, AL
  • Heritage RV Campground - Augusta, GA
  • RVacation Campground - Selma, NC
  • MWR Campground, JEB Little Creek - Virginia Beach VA
We spent time outside of Nashville where we met Tom Wagner.  He was moving south from Wisconsin to Florida for the warmer weather.
From there we went to Red Bay for some clear coat paint work on our roof,
Next, we spent the night in Anniston, AL and then on to Selma, NC where we met Albuquerque friends Bub and Winnie.
We also stopped and saw Kelly's in-laws Marty and Diane in Augusta where we had dinner at Cracker Barrel.
Then it was on to JEB Little Creek where we are going to be for the winter.

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
In the month of December, there were not many areas where we 'held the line' in our spending.  The areas where we were under budget only:
- Campground fees
- Dental Insurance
- Vision Insurance (Pam)

Biggest Expenses
Our spending for our car was a big one.  We had two brake lights units that burnt out when the extra bulbs touched the inside of the plastic casing and melted them.  That cost over $700.  
And we had peeling paint around the window pane between the front and rear windows.  Turned out it was actually tape which we had the dealer put on.

We also bought Dental Insurance for the both of us and Vision Insurance for Pam.  The combined total of those two was $635.  But we figured if we had a couple of dental cleanings and possible filling or two the insurance would pay for itself.  Time will tell.

Large One Time Cost Item
Brake like casings for the Honda CRV - over $700

Monthly Average
Yikes!  This month the numbers were a sea of red, indicating we were over budget in most areas.  At $6273 for the month, we were way over in a number of areas.  Good thing we have had a few months under our target so we are only $53 / month above where we want to be.

Considering Christmas and the holidays, not a bad month.