Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekly 'What We've Been Doing' in Virginia Beach

Time is flying right by for us at Virginia Beach.  We've been busy seeing things, enjoying some nice weather, spending time with friends and most of all -- spending time at the Goldmans!  Though we are on the other side of the city, we have been going over to Jon and Kelly's and hanging out with Brooks.

Last Saturday we began by attending the yearly RV show here at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.  It was a rather small show but still had some interesting displays.  My main interest this time was in looking at the Class C's.  We are not in the market for one now, but who knows?  Maybe in the next few years, we might be...

The one that impressed me was the Thor Chateau 31' model.
I really liked the full side slideout on the Driver Side.  Were we to downsize, it would be an adjustment from current size of the Roadrunner.
We are a few years away (hopefully) from making such a move, but I like keep up with the trends in the industry.  One trend is for a full length slide out.  This model has that and it is the first one I've seen on the Class C.

Another newcomer RV is the Tiffin Class B - the Wayfarer.  We will look forward to seeing those out and about.  Mr. Tiffin told Pam and I in December that they would be taking orders in March 2017.

Aside from the RV show, we've been watching the weather and today in fact, I will be emptying the grey and black tanks, putting away the sewer hose and getting ready for some more freezing weather.
While checking things out yesterday, Pam found a drip under the engine that is a problem.  This is a picture I took laying on my back and looking up from the concrete pad.
I could see a slow drip coming from the connection to this piece. Later today, I will put out the kitty litter to absorb the spill and also take off the inside cover of the engine to take a better photograph so we can send it to a shop in the area and get it fixed.

I hate the fact it is leaking but once again, it all goes with the territory.  It doesn't look like a major issue but we'll have to get it into the shop to get it fixed.  

Yesterday we had an outing with Kelly and Brooks to the Virginia Aquarium.  What a great place!  We are going to be here for a few months so we decided to get a yearly pass in conjunction with Kelly.  It came out to be about $65.  If Pama and I got a couple of more times, it will have paid for itself.

I met these two nice ladies at the gift shop.  They promised to check out the blog after I gave them a contact card.
 On into the displays:
This little board shows information about Virginia's Rivers that are interesting to me including the fact that George Washington fished for over 1,000 shad in 1771.
 It really speaks to the abundance in the rivers in days gone by.  I don't think I realized how plentiful game and fish were hundreds of years ago.  Thank goodness for the fisheries and game and fish departments that replenish our rivers and lakes and streams.

Brooks was glad to be wandering (running at times) around the aquarium.  He was interested at times in the fish but also quite enamored with other things.
 He liked to climb back and forth along the little uneven wall against one of the large window walls of the aquarium.
 And he liked to look out over the channel near the aquarium.
And he liked to reach into the tank of rays that had been 'defanged' (not the technical term) and were harmless.
And after a busy hour or so, he put on the brakes and had a quite few moments by himself...
Sometimes you wonder what is going on in the little guy's mind...

After a few moments he was up and off again for more exploring
The couple of hours we spent at the Virginia Aquarium were well worth it and we'll undoubtedly be back.  It is a fascinating place.  It reminded me in a way of the Monterey Aquarium though that one is on a much larger scale.  Both are unique and educational.

We are enjoying our time here and have now been in VB a month!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Routine of Sorts in VB

The snow melted about a week ago here in Virginia Beach.
Rain and 70 degree weather changed things dramatically.  Regardless of the weather, we are excited to be within 100 yards of the beach.  In cold weather or warmer weather, I love the beach!

I have had many walks along this beach and no doubt will continue them during the next few months that we will spend here.  We are thinking we'll be around until the first part of May.
While here, I had a followup appointment with the retina specialist.  He liked the looks of things and said I should go see the cataract specialist to see if I should do that surgery now or get a new prescription.

He recommended surgery so that is what I did.
This amazing journey through this segment of the high tech medical field continues.  Cataract surgery looked like this for me as I waited.  About 15 minutes after this I was done.  Now 10 days later -- results are terrific.  I am SO thankful.  I have 20/30 eyesight now and in about a month when I get new glasses, it could get even better.  

Seven months ago I could not tell the nurse how many fingers she was holding up.  Now the prospects are good for better than 20/30 eyesight.  -- Amazing!  

The real reason we are here in Virginia Beach is to be grandparents!  That is one special job description.   We love the whole idea and like spending time with Brooks and Kelly during the daytime.

He is one busy fella and cute as he can be.  Nothing makes his day more than playing outside!
He likes running around and teasing Lennon (black/white dog) his bone.
You will notice a green golf club on the ground.  He isn't too excited about that yet, but we are working on it...

He does like kicking the soccer ball, or raking through his garden - he can spend hours in the yard every day when it is not raining.
 Sometimes he just runs around and plays hide and seek behind the trees. Or on his little climbing fort and slide.
Other times he takes a break and drinks a smoothie.  And he points to the airplanes in the sky that he can hear when they take off.
 Other times, he chills out inside and watches some of his YouTube videos on his iPad.
 Or he comes over to the Roadrunner and plays 'pick up sticks'.

Yesterday we went to the local library.  Its pretty excellent with a little kids area that has a lot of activities.
Seems as if we end up spending about 1/2 our time over at Kelly and Jon's which is wonderful.  And the other half, we are digging out of the snow, working on the blog (I have been doing a lot of catchup) and reading.

I have read a number of books over the past few weeks and and currently enjoying one on Lincoln "Team of Rivals" and one of local history, "Virginia Beach, Then and Now".

That's about it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Sort of a 'day in the life' post of what we've been up to.  Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Roadrunner Rewind: 2009 Travels - Our First 6 Months

We started full-timing in May 2009.  It took a couple of years of planning, research, decisions, project management (my worldview) milestones, and action -- and we launched into one of the best things Pam and I have ever done.

Looking back helps remind us of the excitement we felt and the new territories we covered and the things we felt during those first few months.  What an exciting time.  We had big plans and felt like sponges:  we couldn't soak it all in fast enough.

Everyday it seemed like we were learning a hundred things!  Everyday we felt excited and energetic and the whole idea was daunting. Our learning curve was steep and our brains could not take it all in. Something I have only recently been able to do is put together a contiguous map of the places we stopped.

Google Maps limits how many locations that can be displayed at one time on the map.  I had to learn to use overlays.  There are more features to learn I am sure but here's a look at where we went:

The day we bought the Roadrunner (2007 Tiffin Allegro Bus):  May 22, 2009
What an exciting day!  During the next six months we made our way to Maynardville TN to see Pam's sister and family.  Then we headed to Oklahoma City to see friends Kirk and Susan.

Our next scheduled stop was in Pontiac Illinois for a three week stint with the NOMADS - a volunteer group.

We then traveled to Canada (Petrolia across from the Port Huron border crossing and onto the beautiful Bruce Peninsula and Tobermory.)

We headed west to Mount Rushmore and then south again to another volunteer project in Greensburg KS.  After that, we visited brother Reid in Albuquerque.

We drove the Roadrunner south after that and headed to Kerrville TX for our first rally (with RV-Dreams).  We then went to the Fort Worth area to see brother Brad and then explored that area of Texas.

From there we went to the Rio Grande Valley and the border town of Nuevo Progresso.  Once there we crossed the border (on foot) and tried out Mexican dental care.

Our volunteer efforts to us to Galveston TX for a few weeks and then we headed west again.

It was on to Tucson next where we spent some time before heading to the San Diego/Camp Pendleton area for the holidays.

From there we went north to Redlands CA, near where we lived in the mid 1980's and visited former neighbors Bob and Sue.

It was a busy first six months on the road.  We tried to see a lot.  We did!  And we learned a lot and were pretty excited to be on the road.

We were asked, "What's the most memorable thing you have seen so far your travels"?   Ugh... that is always a hard question but some of the more notable memories include:

  • Taking in the morning fog over the lake at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Benbrook Lake, Fort Worth, TX
  • Disaster Relief volunteering, meeting like-minded folks in Galveston, TX
  • Getting shivers at the exceptionally well done evening ceremony honoring military at Mount Rushmore
  • Enjoying middle America at a lovely evening town 4th of July concert in Pontiac Illinois
  • Crowding 17 friends and family into the Roadrunner over the holidays on the beach at Camp Pendleton CA
For a more complete listing of our experiences during the year, you can click on the right panel of the blog under '2009'.

That's a recap of the Roadrunner Travels during the first six months of our time on the road.  Its fun to look back!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Roadrunner in 7 Degrees!

The temperature outside said 19 degrees but 'feels like 7 degrees'.  Which meant it was cold outside.  We had been preparing for it for a couple of days and now after a couple of nights of cold weather -- so far so good.

We have a lot to learn in winter camping in the Roadrunner but I thought I'd tell you a number of things we have done:
First of all, we made sure we had a couple of good electric ceramic heaters.  We already had a small one from Walmart.  Believe it sells for about $16.
We weren't too sure about our larger oscillating one we use up front, so we replaced it with one from Costco
This one is listed at $60.
Plug the holes:
Next, we spent time fill up every nook and cranny where air could come into the Roadrunner.  Pam stuffed some 8" foam insulation.  She cut off lengths of it and then folded it under the seam where the slide outs overlaid onto the floor.  
There is a thin strip folded under the PS slideout area beneath the sofa.
On the DS bedroom slideout, we put a $2.97 pillow and some towels down to fill up some gaps to the outside.
 And some more strips of the 8" foam along the lip of the PS slideout.
 Finally, underneath the bed on the DS nearest the closet, there is a area that can collect some cold air from the outside, so more towels went there.
Cover the windows:
Another project she took on was to get a couple of curtains and hang them over the front door and the Passenger Side (PS) window and console near the front door.
Pam found a small curtain rod and then engineered a way hang it up so she could thread a pair of drapes over the windows and door.  We pull down both the day/night and blackout shade, then pull out the curtain.  We used to do a variation of that in our sticks and bricks home years ago.
In the bathroom, I cut a couple of pieces of leftover from the water heater blanket and taped them over the bathroom windows.  It looks pretty bad from the outside, but works well on the inside.

Pam wanted to make curtains for the bathroom so she took down the blinds we had there.  New look and warmer!
Insulate and heat the wet bay:
I put a lot of effort into making it as warm as I could in the wet bay.  I got an 8" roll
Get commercial heated hose:
The water pipes were frozen when we arrived a couple of weeks ago. I don't know how much difference it made to wrap the handle and top of the faucet in fiberglass insulation, but so far so good.
The real difference is probably the commercial heated hose that we have hooked up and plugged in.

One of life's joys in the midst of cold weather is turning the faucet on in the morning and see the water come out in the kitchen sink.  

If it freezes, we have a back up with a two gallon jug of water on standby just in case.
Consider pulling in the Slides:
The main reason I pulled in the slides was to protect the new toppers over the slideouts.  We just had new toppers put on and I know ice and snow tends to take their toll on them.  
We were expecting 8"-12" so I knew I'd probably have to get up on top of the Roadrunner and get all the snow off.  Pulling in the slides meant I wouldn't have to do that. 
The other reason we thought it was a good idea was we thought it would be warmer inside with less space to heat.  We kept it closed up for a couple of days.  It was cozy but not a big deal.

Put away the sewer hose:
I like to put away my hose when it is freezing outside.  It might crack or I might step on it and then I'll have to repair it or get another one.  Also by capping off the sewer connection in the wet bay, we have one less exposed hole/pipe into the RV.  If the tanks fill up, you dig out the sewer hole and hook up the hose, empty and then put it all back.  Takes 10 minutes.

Go easy on the gas heat:
Some installed an adapter to their propane gas tank so they can connect portable propane tank to their RV.  We've chosen not to do that so far.  But that means we have to keep an eye on how much we are burning with the hot water heater (for showers) and we watch the heater furnace.  If it is kicking on too much, we turn it down and rely on our electric heaters.  Our experience has been the coach heat pump is pretty worthless in cold weather.

One thing just started doing is leaving the portable ceramic heater turned on at night so the gas heater doesn't engage.  

We know we will have to pull in the slides and drive about 2 miles over to the KOA and fill up once or twice during the winter, but that is OK.  Its not a bad idea to fire up the Roadrunner and let it run a little bit once every few weeks.

Wear more clothes:
Hate to state the obvious but I will. Winter time is when I pull out those T-Shirts that are too snug on me.  They are great as undershirts.  I usually then have a long sleeve T-Shirt over it with a fleece or sweatshirt over that.  

Put a Snuggie on the Lazy Boy:
Makes a big difference to me when I sit down in the leather Lazy Boy.  I hate to sit on a cold chair and this really works.  I also manage to put a throw blanket on if I need it.
Pam usually has an afghan/blanket on her legs most of the time and she especially does during cold weather!
Flannel sheets and an extra blanket on the bed:
This shows the flannel sheets with a blanket, bedspread, another blanket and a blue throw afghan on top.  Layers work, especially with the flannel sheets!
Heat engine switch:
If you have one of those switches on your Driver Side console, you might want to keep it turned on during the really cold weather - even if you are not planning on going anywhere any time soon.
Ours is turned on and is the second one from the left on the top row of the console.

There are probably some other things we could do to make it warmer inside the Roadrunner, like add more rugs or get carpet for the main area.  And that cold ceramic floor in the morning IS cold!  But we don't intend to spend winter in the cold too often, so we'll probably not do that.

There is a look at some of the things we do to keep warm in cold weather.  It is all part of the adventure.  You probably have some other tips - so please share them!

Thanks for taking a look today and joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Roadrunner Financials - December 2016

Roadrunner Recap
In December,  we visited the following locations along the  
  • Gulf Waters RV Resort, Fort Myers FL
  • Manatee Springs State Park, Chiefland FL
  • Ho Hum Campground, Carrabelle FL
  • Hurlburt Field FamCamp, Fort Walton Beach FL
  • Oak Grove MWR Campground, Pensacola NAS FL
  • Gunter Hill US Army Corps of Engineers Park, Montgomery AL
  • Downtown RV Park, Red Bay AL
  • Camping World Campground, Anniston AL
  • RVacation Campground, Selma NC
  • Sea Mist RV Campground (military), Virginia Beach VA
Here's an interactive map of our travels:

Or, if you prefer and find this easier to navigate, here is a static map:

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget

Biggest Expenses

Highest 1 Time Cost Item
We had toppers replaced at Brannons and also had a list of things for him to check out including replacing the motor on one of the fans, troubleshooting a faulty light switch, replacing the 'eye' on our DirecTV, and downloading new software for our Razor Over-the-Air antenna.  $1400.

Monthly Average

The hits just keep on coming...We were $2100 over budget this month and the average climbed another couple hundred dollars again.

So this is a look at where our money went during the second month of the new year.

As always, if you think this spreadsheet might be useful I'd be glad to pass it along at no cost.  Just let me know.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!