Monday, November 30, 2015

Roadrunner Wrapup - Maynardville Nov 2015

We left the Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground about 7:30 yesterday morning after a 10 day stay.  It's always great to hang out with Joan and Mike and to see everybody.
The two things that really standout in my mind on this visit are Joan's health and a near miss with the tree we chopped down.  I already mentioned the tree in my last post.

Joan's health though I don't think I have mentioned very much.  She hasn't felt this good or gotten around this good in years!  It was really quite startling to see her get around fine and more like her 'old self'.

I think it was about five years ago she had back surgery to relieve chronic sciatic nerve pain.  It worked for a while but a second surgery was needed six months later.  That did not work and she suffered through years of extreme pain and questionable medication.  Then in August she got up from the sofa was dizzy and fell, breaking her wrist.

After surgery and staying at the hospital overnight, her nurses found out her pain medicine and blood pressure medicine were at odds and should not be taken together.  They got rid of her heavy hitting pain meds and replaced it with Motrin.  Her life changed in an unbelievable way! She is a completely different person.  After a few weeks of the new regimen she is in better health than she has been in the last 10 years!

That is the biggest memory I will carry is how she looks and feels and her quality of life has returned. This is big!

Other memories we tucked away while there were visiting with long time neighbor Helen (and granddaughter Emma.) And grand niece Kayla returned from her studies at Middle Tennessee for Thanksgiving.

I also got to spend time with nephew Joey while playing some golf with him and some of his friends.

We were able to go out to Joan and Pam's dad's place and spend some time with him.
While we were out we made the usual runs to Walmart, Hammer's, Lowes, Dollar Tree etc.  Not to early to get some stocking stuffers.

Before we even got to Joan and Mikes, Pam made it her mission to cook and leave some food behind.  With Joan's broken hand, she has not done much cooking.  And Joan and Mike love Pam's cooking (who doesn't?) and she gladly cooked.  She not only made most of the meals each evening but made extra let at least six casseroles in the freezer for Joan and Mike.

One afternoon I painted the front bathroom.
We found a way to schedule in a couple of games of Monopoly with nephew-in-law Jeremy and his son Noah who played with us.
Over the years we've had some memorable and fun times around the Monopoly board and the evening we played was long overdue.

Mike and I took a drive up to the Kentucky border to see how far along the new bridge near Tazewell.  I always look forward to our back road trips through neighboring counties.  It has been quite interesting to drive around through the hollers and hills.

Pam and I also spent a lot of time on Brooks' stocking.  Kelly gave Pam a stocking sew kit that is one of the most intricate I've seen.  It has taken hours and hours and is almost done.
Pam does all the heavy lifting on that one and I get to thread the needles.  Hopefully it will be a labor of love from his grandmother that he enjoys over the years.

Of course there was the Thanksgiving Day meal at Mike and Joan's.
Pam and Joan and Michelle did all the cooking and we had a feast.  It was good to see Joey and girlfriend Angela, neighbor Willow and Michelle, Jeremy, Kayla, Noah.  It was a great group and we enjoyed hanging out a little bit.

And another afternoon Pam and I drove over to a new Vineyard at Willow Springs which is a couple of miles away.
Over the last 15 years we have watched this property and the surrounding acres get cleared and crops planted.  The owner has cows and a huge garden and a couple of years ago planted a small vineyard.  Then this building went up that serves as a store and office and wine processing plant.  Very interesting and quaint place.

It was another great stay at Joan and Mikes and great to spend Thanksgiving with them.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cutting Down the Tree in Maynardville

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been a little nippy here in Maynardville TN at the Roadrunner RV Resort, but otherwise very nice weather.
Some evenings have been spectacular -- especially the sunsets.

While here we have been lining up a couple of projects.  The first one was to cut down the big dead locust tree near Joan and Mike's driveway.  I thought I took some pictures for the 'before' and 'after' shots but apparently I did not.
 This was not the tree but a similar one nearby that also needs to come down.

Probably best that I did not take a lot of photos.  It was a little scary because we didn't really know what we were doing.  We were very lucky the tree fell in an open area and had no problems.  Turns out I had one idea and Mike had another and we didn't realize we were not together until a significant 'notch' had been cut out.  At that point we were committed.  We had a rope on the tree tied to his Kubota tractor and were able to 'help' it along and it fell between things.  One of those 'near misses' in many ways.

Here is a photo of the tree after it had mostly been cut up.  We had not yet cut the stump down to ground level.
That little chainsaw really was awesome.
 Once the tree was down, Mike cut it up into small sections and we loaded it all onto his trailer.

Next, we took the trailer around back and unloaded the small branches to burn.
 Once that was done, we got the trailer ready to take the wood across town.
 The Union County Humane Society burns wood to heat their facility so, we took it over there for their use.
 After we unloaded it, Mike filled out some paperwork in the office and their Recipe Book caught his attention...
It took us a few hours to cut down the tree, hack it up, burn the small branches and then deliver the logs over at the Humane Society but it was time well spent.

We are very thankful it turned out OK and will log it up to Lessons Learned and be more careful and safe next time.
Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!
And hope you and yours have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Brooks Update

Little grandson Brooks is doing great and just turned 9 months old.  Thought it was about time to share some thoughts about him and some pictures.
He's an amazing little guy and has won our hearts quickly.  We are thoroughly enjoying our time as grandparents and love being able to spend some large amounts of time with him.

Back in February, we were there in the hospital when he arrived.
In fact, we parked the Roadrunner in Virginia Beach there in Dec and stayed until the first part of April.  We got to spend time with the expectant mother and father and help out once he arrived.

Wow - He's a game changer!  Over the years it has been fun watching our friends turn into grandparents.  It has been a time of growth and lots of fun.  I remember 'older people' changing into grandparents and 'catch it'.  You know -- talk lots and lots about him, go shopping for him, coddle and hold him, change the diapers, go for walks, talk with him, etc etc.

Over time we had forgotten what it was like to be around the little ones.  Often times it is a mystery exactly what he needs/wants and how to make him comfortable or quit crying.  And it is a lot of hard work.  --- All the obvious things you'd expect to hear.

On top of that - it is pure JOY being a grandparent.

The wonder of this little creature and he grows and changes.  I think he is on a 3 day growth cycle.  I stare and him and swear he has changed right before my eyes in the last 3 days.  And it happens again and again.  What a WONDER.

It strikes me how universal this idea of a grandchild is.  No matter where you live (assuming the basics are taken care of) it doesn't matter about titles or socio/economic status -- these babies bring JOY!

In the early days of Brooks arrival, we got to spend time over at his place but he slept a lot. We went with Kelly on walks around the neighborhood and held him and enjoyed that stage during his first six weeks.

We left him in April and saw him again in August.
From 6 weeks to 6 months is huge! Despite seeing him on FaceTime now and then, we were surprised how much he had changed.

He was learning to crawl in August and now is almost walking.  He has the bumps and bruises to show for his efforts.  And he eats well.  Don't think I have ever seen one that loves to eat like him.  He doesn't care for the diaper change because he sometime has diaper rash.
I think it is from all the different kinds of food he is eating these days.  Here he is working on the finger food.  After he chows down on the spoon fed stuff he loves to feed himself.

Right now he is the friendliest little guy I've seen.  He doesn't cling, is fine around people and has a knack for music.  It is awesome to watch him be mesmerized by Rockabye Lullabies on Pandora.

He has his own pan and wooden spoon that he keeps the beat with.  And he has a little piano he bangs away on.
But mostly he stands by the padded coffee table in front of the TV watching and listening to Pandora as he jumps and down to the beat of the music.  He holds on with one had and raises the other when he's really cooking...  too cute!

He also likes his jumping seat.  It has a few things for him to grab and play with but mostly he gets to jump up and down.
 Here he is in the garage helping mom get the laundry done.

And he still likes to go on walks.  Here he and I had a long walk around the block a few times.  He was supposed to go down for his late afternoon nap but decided against it.
 So I opted to take him out and get some exercise and finally he nodded off for about 30 minutes.

A big highlight of the day for him is when daddy comes home from work and he gets to hang out some before dinner.

One of his favorite toys is his little car that grandma is pushing.  He really feels like a big boy when he gets on this thing.
I could show you about 900 more pictures, but will close for now.  Brooks is one amazing little guy and it is a JOY to be around him.
This is a family shot of Jon and Kelly and Brooks in a hammock while on a weekend trip to the Shenandoahs recently.  Nice family.  We LOVE them!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

At the Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground Again

Over the years we have been coming to Mike and Joan's place in Tennessee often.  We love these guys and love spending some time with them.  After being in Virginia for the last few months, we decided on spending Thanksgiving here again.
 We returned to our familiar spot on their property which we have named, "The Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground".  It only has one campsite, but that is all we need.

We started out today early again and left Fort Chiswell RV Park about 7:30 AM.
It was a beautiful day and a fantastic drive down I-81, over to Kingsport, Tazewell and into Maynardville.
 Part of the reason we do this is to help people and to make friends.  Here at Joan and Mike's they have a couple of projects lined up that we will be able to work on.  Plus we will be able to see family and friends in the area.

We are really looking forward to this.  And the food.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On the Road Again from Virginia Beach

This morning we left our great campsite (Sea Mist RV Campground) in Virginia Beach and are headed to Maynardville, TN for the next few days and Thanksgiving.

After being stationary for about six weeks I wondered if we would be a little rusty?  We started packing up and getting ready about 6:30 AM and by 7:15 we were on our way.  We originally were planning on a new route that would take us mostly west from Virginia Beach on Highway 58.
We hadn't been that way so we were looking forward to it.  Maybe we will give it a try on another trip.

The weather report yesterday was a lot of rain all day, so we decided on a route through major highways from Interstate 64 to Interstate 81,  'just in case'.  Turned out the weather was actually fine.  We ran into a little rain, lots of clouds and some dense fog coming across the mountains from Charlottesville.

This took us through some very familiar territory.  For the 17 years we lived in Fairfax VA, we drove south on I-81 many many times to go to Tennessee.  In fact, we reminisced about taking this drive down I-81 on the maiden voyage of the Roadrunner back in June 2009.  We left Fairfax and drove to Maynardville in one day back then.  

This time we are breaking the 10 hour trip into two days.  We thought it would be a 5-6 hour trip today, but we took our time and arrived about 2:45 PM making it a 7 1/2 hour day on the road which is long enough.

Last night we did some pre-mission planning and route study and found Fort Chiswell RV Park which had good reviews on  We scored a level concrete pad and got hooked up in minutes.  We are in an area with few trees so our Winegard Trav'ler was happy and synced up in about 10 minutes.
We look forward to a relaxing evening and probably another early start to the rest of the trip to Maynardville.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Winegard: Our Fix to No LNB Voltage

About two years ago we got a Winegard Trav'ler HD satellite with DirecTV.  A couple of weeks ago we had a blank screen accompanied an error message something like:  !No LNB Voltage!

I wish I had taken a picture of exactly the precise error message, but it was close enough for the technicians at Winegard to know exactly what the problem is.  Reminds me of issues we have had with our Progressive Industries Surge Protector and our Dometic Toilet flush handle.  When we described it they instantly knew what the problem was -- like they had seen it many times before I called.

The problem was a faulty 3' 'braided' cable from the connection at the base of the satellite to the end of the dish where the signal is received.  Glad I had an extra one in my 'pieces and parts' bin.  I swapped that out for a temporary fix and Winegard sent a permanent replacement.

My question is:  Has anyone else had this issue with Winegard?  

To fix it, Pam and I worked together and it took about 25 minutes to climb on top, take the end of the satellite arm off remove the old cable and replace it with the temporary cable.
Once on top with my tools and magnetic nuts and bolts tray.  I can't tell you how many times screws, nuts, bolts etc have rolled away before I started using this.
It was a little tricky, but I had to feed the new cable down the inside of the arm of the dish, connect it, and put the tip of the arm back together.
I don't now why, but even with the simplest of repairs going on, I must subconsciously not feel right about it unless I draw blood... I took a chunk out of my thumb when the little wrench slipped.  Really?  I couldn't duplicate it again if I tried 25 times... Oh well, another bandaid and I continued.

I had to use a couple of box wrenches, a crescent wrench and an Allen wrench to remove:  the four screws holding the protective piece at the end of the arm and four bolts and nuts at the middle of the arm.
The Winegard tech told me it would be a few days for the replacement cable to get here and four days later I was installing the new one.  It was one of those simple fixes once we knew what the "No LNB voltage" was.
Simple if you carry an extra three foot cable and can climb up and down on top of the roof.  I was glad to get it fixed although I remain a little sceptical as whether or not this was a good purchase for us.  Most of the time I like our Winegard Trav'ler but there are times when I wonder why it takes 25+ minutes to connect when we drive to a new location.

That's my recap of our No LNB issue -- glad its fixed and we learned some more maintenance items on the Roadrunner.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Love hearing from you - thanks for taking a moment to comment.