Sunday, May 27, 2018

What is a Norwex Facebook Party?

From time to time, I post on "What Works for Us" in the form of tips, techniques, hacks or products.  This post is all about Norwex -- a line of products that work for us.

Maybe you've heard of Norwex and don't know exactly what 'it' is.   Norwex is company that strives to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals used in homes.  Their top sellers can replace MULTIPLE products...counter spray, rolls of paper towels, fabric spray, even shower cleaner!

Using only water, the EnviroCloth cleans up to 99% of bacteria! Most of the cloths are also antibacterial, and have Backlock (MicroSilver). Silver is an antimicrobial, which means it suffocates mold, mildew and bacteria. 😷.  I usually don't get into the weeds with these kind of things, but who doesn't want a clean countertop?  Or bathroom sink?  All WITHOUT the harmful chemicals.  That is what Norwex brings -- chemically safe ways to keep your home clean.

As RVers, we tend to stay away from a lot of chemicals (e.g. We know Draino is not a good way to clean out the sink traps...).  
But Norwex is for everyone, not just RVers. Since a lot of products can be replaced with just an EnviroCloth, you can save so much space!

I hosted a Facebook party a couple of months ago and thought it was time to do it again.  If you are curious, interested, repeat customers, or just supportive -- this is for you!  If you'd like to join us, just let me know and I will send you an invite!  

Just for the record, I don't sell Norwex...but Kelly does.  She's the expert and can answer all your questions.  

So what can Norwex do for you?  Here are a few before/after pictures:
 Water marks on the refrigerator

 Arm rests on RV capitans' chairs 

 Grout dirt build up on RV ceramic tile floor

Clean windows using water and the Window cloth

Cleaning fabric covered chairs

Cleaning the front of a cruddy looking woodstove

Fingerprints and smears off refrigerator and cooktop stove

Reduces amount of cleaning stuff under the sink

The Norwex main microfiber cloth is called an EnviroCloth, think of "E" for "everything"...this cloth is going to replace so many of your cleaners!👍🏻  Using only water, the envirocloth cleans up to 99% of bacteria!

Most of the cloths are also antibacterial, and have Backlock (MicroSilver). Silver is an antimicrobial, which means it suffocates mold, mildew and bacteria. 😷

This baby (the cleaning clothes) does the trick.  With just water.  What??  Yes. Wet the window, windshield, mirror, your eye glasses - etc.  and wipe it dry with the EnviroCloth/Window Cloth.

Over the years I was a little skeptical of Norwex, but I decided to check it out and glad I did.

Kelly's Norwex Web site

I will be hosting a virtual Facebook party starting Wednesday that continues throughout the week, sharing about how I use my Norwex cloths to clean— using only water! These cloths clean BETTER than our traditional go-to’s, take up LESS SPACE (a BIG plus for RV’ers!) and are really easy to use!

If you are interested, let me know I'll send you an invite? 

There is no pressure to buy anything at all- just check in throughout the week to my Facebook Group, comment, ask questions, and enter in the giveaways (free things!). 

Hope this helps and you can see why we say, "Norwex works for us".  
That's all for this week - be sure to let me know if you want to join our Facebook Party.  

As always -- thanks for joining for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Fun Times at Gold Manor - May 2018

Pam and I have been here in Virginia Beach for about three weeks now.  We are here to see daughter Kelly, son-in-law Jon and grandkids Brooks and Harrison.  We've been busy and have enjoyed every minute.  We are playing with the grandkids, doing projects around their house, seeing some friends from church.  We've generally making the most of our time here.

We also love doing projects around the house.  Some are more involved with others, but each project makes a dent in making their place (Gold Manor) an up-to-date home.  They purchased the property in November and have had some major renovations.
We've been concentrating on the smaller scale projects and helping out with the baby sitting and yard work.
This shows three projects underway:  Kelly is scraping the paint off the side door and garage door.  I power sprayed the garage door also and it is a long process.  Pam and I got an LED replacement light over the garage which she was putting up.  She finished that project quickly.  The rest will take a while.
I also power-washed the boat house and started with the back side.  It was a pretty nasty effort but it was a good start to getting the old paint off before we repair boards and put a new coat of paint on it. 
This tree/bush root was a particularly pesky one.  I had to dig and use the sawz-all to finally get it cut it off below ground.

I like mowing the lawn and it is a good way to get a workout!

Jon started laying some bricks for edging in the front yard and I continued the effort on the front walkway.

It is a fantastic piece of land with great neighbors and they are making it look great -- inside their house and outside on the grounds.  Can't believe they have only been here 6 months.  A lot of work but we they also are enjoying it.

In fact, we usually find ourselves outside in the back yard or down by the lake most days.

Last evening Jon, Pam and I took the boys out for a little excursion that lasted about 15-20 minutes.  Uncle Mike gave Jon a trolling motor that has replaced the oars so it is easier on all of us. Kelly stayed behind as we pulled away Kelly had cast off from the shore and was fishing.  Seeing that, Jon mentioned, "She gets prettier every day..." 😊 Jon managed to drop the hook a few times along the shore of the lake, but didn't snag one.  As we were pulling in,  Kelly said she caught one that got tangled up in the trees and weeds near shore as she was reeling him in.  He put up a fight until he broke free. Kelly was pretty relieved since she hadn't figured out how she was going to release him with out grabbing the slimy thing...

We've been here in VB a few weeks now.  It has not all been work work work.  Jon had a birthday 
and Kelly had a surprise birthday party for Jon.  He was truly surprised because it also dubbed as a Cinco de Mayo party that was 10 days before the real birthday.  Jon and the guys went on a short overnight camping trip and 30 or so guests were waiting went for him when we pulled into the driveway.
Everyone stayed for a few hours and we all had a good time.
 That's some of what we've been up to.  Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Roadrunner Reflections: Completing 9 Years of RV Living

Our 9th Year on the Road began in Virginia Beach and here we are again in Virginia Beach.  I still remember that back-porch conversation Pam and I had when we were considering full-timing.  I said, "If we are really going to do this, sell the house, buy and RV and all that, we should at least plan on doing it for 5 years."  Pam thought otherwise.  She said, "I was thinking more like 10."
And here we are.  Living the RV dream in year 10.  It has been quite an adventure.

The adventure has had so many facets to it, it is a little hard to explain.  But I am going to do my best.  I'm writing a book.  Writing a book almost like running a marathon. I've run four of those.  It took me a few years to decide I was actually going to run one and then commit to all the miles and hours preparing to go 26.2 miles.  Writing a book is a bit daunting.  Especially if you want to do a credible job.  I have the first draft under my belt and will probably have drafts two and three before I am ready to take the next step.  The halfway point of a marathon is about mile 20.  Seems as if the last 6.2 miles were as hard as the first 20.  I think the halfway point of writing a book is somewhere beyond draft two.  10 chapters, 50,000+ words, it is coming together.  We will see.  Stay tuned.  I'm shooting for a fall release.

So that is one major aspect of year nine - I became a 'writer'.  I have been a blogger for over 10 years now and have taken it seriously as various times.  Sometimes it seems like a lot of work to be a hobby.  Other times, the words and motivation are there and it comes fairly easy.  Somewhere along the line last year, I was reviewing a friend's manuscript (Wes), who had a collection of short stories he formed into a very readable book.  He has a masterful grip of storytelling.  Me, not so much.

Somewhere along the line he suggested I write a book.  I don't even remember the conversation to well.  It reminded me of running a marathon.  It took me years, literally years to wrap my head around the idea and then actually take steps to get it accomplished.  About that time I enjoyed running and remember it being a fad.  Lots of people were 'jogging'.  For some reason the idea of 'jogging' never resonated with me.  I decided I was always going to be a 'runner'.  Pace or speed had nothing to do with it.  It was a mind set.  I was a runner.

Other personal challenges included getting my Master's degree.  I remember thinking about it, dabbling in it with a few night classes and then finally one day decided, "I'm going to get this done." It took me over two years and lots of studying on Sunday afternoons, but it paid off.

And I think becoming a writer and changing the mindset from dabbling it in putting together a credible effort will be rewarding as well.  I haven't got the interest in a novel and writing engaging stories, but I do have 10 years of thinking about RV living and writing about it.  I have thousands of pictures and memories to fill up 10 volumes.  (At this point I have plans for 10 volumes.)  Why not?  I like doing it, it is a challenge and we will see.  There is one change in Year 9.  I became a writer.

We have plenty of other reflections about that last nine years and the last year in particular.  The biggest events over the last couple of years are the arrival of our two grandsons:  Brooks and Harrison.  These two little guys are game changers!  Being away from them four or five months is a special kind of tug that we want to figure out.  Maybe the better way to travel and come back to Virginia Beach is to go on two or three month trips and come back to see them for a couple of months at a time.  They grow up quickly.

We are very fortunate to have a daughter and son-in-law that are insistent we be involved in the grandkids lives.  We are glad to do so and are figuring all that out.  It's been a real joy to be around them and help out and we surely will do more of that in the days and years ahead.  Their presence on the scene has caused us to reflect and consider the next step in our RV living...

We cannot say how long we will be full-timing.  But our thinking has definitely changed to where we are actively discussing other arrangements.  We have no timeline in mind and we have one more year before we hit the 10 year mark.  I remember asking the question on an RV forum before we hit the road, "What is your exit plan?".  Most people responded as if I was nuts and if I was already thinking about an exit plan, maybe full-timing was not for me.  What??

I think I wanted to see if there is something worth considering before we started, that would make it better when we moved to part-timing or some-timing.  The bottom line is that I decided just like we figured out how to transition to full-timing, we could figure it out when the time for us to change and 'settle' down.

Not sure what to call where we are now, but we are definitely in a different phase of RV Living - "No Man's Land".

It reminds me of deciding to leave my current job for another one and not telling anyone yet.  I was in that situation after I retired from the military.  I had decided to leave, was actively pursuing new employment, but I wasn't in a position yet to discuss it with anyone but Pam.  I continued to work hard at my current position and I determined the date I needed to offer my resignation.  It was "No Man's Land".

That term may be a bit overly dramatic but we are in a different phase of Living the Dream.  After 9 years of living this life, we know that our life is probably going to change in the next year or two.  We're not sure exactly what that is going to look like but it will probably be settling down here in Virginia Beach.  Our son and daughter in law live in Fairfax VA and work in the Northern VA/Washington DC area.  Our daughter and son in law and two grandkids live here in Virginia Beach.  It makes sense for us to be in Virginia if we want to be near them.

This phase is almost like starting out all over again.  At this stage, I want to do all I can to avoid a big financial mistake.  We are now at Social Security retirement age and on a fixed income. Unless my book(s) are wildly successful and we come financially independent.  😳  Like playing the lottery, I don't think that is a very sound financial retirement plan.

Thinking about getting off the road and brainstorming sets off a whole set of uncertainty, curiosity, changes, risks and research.  While we enjoy our time on the road, we will be working the next phase in the background/behind the scenes.  We will see what happens.  Meanwhile, part of reflecting on our ninth year is a recap of some of the travels we've had over the last 12 months.

We started out going to Ohio and up to Michigan before returning to Virginia Beach for the holidays. After the first of the year, we drove south on I-95 to Florida and then headed west on I-10 and into California.  We saw friends in the San Bernardino are and landed in Arizona for the winter.  It was mostly warm and a great time.  We love Arizona!

We found ourselves doing a lot of things this last year that we did in Year 1 of our adventures.

We saw museums and state capitols, worked for Habitat for Humanity on a couple of gigs, went to Canada, went to Mexico and spent a lot of time in the Tucson area:

  • Virginia Zoo (Norfolk)
  • National Historical Site at Kitty Hawk (Wright Brothers)
  • Columbus Zoo (Ohio)
  • Jack Nicklaus Museum (Ohio State campus)
  • Noah's Ark (full size display and museum near Cincinnati)
  • Creation Museum (Petersburg, KY not far from Cincinnati)
  • Red Bay Museum (Red Bay, AL)
  • Kentucky Horse Park (Lexington)
  • Cultural Heritage Center (Pierre, SD)
  • Pony Express Museum (Marysville, KS)
  • Loretto Memorial Chapel (Santa Fe)
  • National Museum of the American Indian (Washington DC)
  • Ford Theater (Washington DC)
  • Dodge City (KS)
  • Natural Bridge (Virginia)
State Capitols
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Lexington, KY
  • Pierre, South Dakota
  • Gold Manor (major renovations at daughter and son-in-law's/Virginia Beach
  • Habitat for Humanity/Care-A-Vanner, East Lansing, MI
  • Habitat for Humanity/Care-A-Vanner, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Solar Eclipse (An event Pam put on the calendar many months in advance so we could see a 100% coverage in Nebraska)
  • Golf in Arizona (Played more this year than I have in many years)
  • Hiking (Sabino Canyon and Catalina State Park -  Tucson)
  • 100,000 miles - we passed the 100,000 miles in the Roadrunner a few weeks ago.  
As we look back on our 9th year, a number of things have changed since we first got interested in RV living Full-Time:

  • Facebook - It seems to me Facebook is exploding with RV groups and information.  It is so easy to ask a question about RVing and one only has to wait minutes before a multitude of responses flash on the screen.  
  • YouTube - A close second to Facebook is YouTube that has about every kind of video you would want to see on the lifestyle, RVs and "How To" on all kinds of RV subjects.
  • Kindle - this device was fairly new 9 years ago and it was not nearly as common as it is today.  Most people (me included) read books on Kindle or the Kindle app on smartphones.
  • Travel Trailers - There seems to be a lot more travel trailers on the road.  New RVers are getting the less expensive models and it seem to be much more common to see them in the campgrounds.
  • Gas vs diesel Class A's - I would guess that the gas engine Class A is gaining
  • Price of fuel - Not nearly what I thought it would be after 9 years of RVing.  Diesel seems to be hovering around the $3.00/gal and I thought it would be over $5.00/gal.  Back in 2008/2009 it was making a steady climb and I expected it to stay at the high cost.  We paid over $4.00/gal years ago, but thankfully that did not last long.
Maintenance on The Roadrunner and tow car (Honda CRV)
  • New headlights
  • Replaced pitted/corroding air horns on top with aluminum air horns
  • New carpeting throughout
  • Repainted all bay doors
  • New tires 
  • Replaced Driver Side (DS) front window that took a rock 
  • Alternator in car
I am surprised we have not had to replace our front windshield.  It had a number of chips and small cracks that were repair after they occurred but I thought that it would only last a couple of years.  Not so.  Here we are, many years down the road and the windshield is still doing good.

Each year I pause and reflect and try to note where we are in the RV Living adventure.  We are still loving the lifestyle and yet know it is going to change in the next few years.  We will see what it looks like and embrace that stage of Living the Dream.

Meanwhile, you all, our loyal, frequent and interested readers.  Interaction with you has been one of the huge bonuses of this journey and I thank you. It has been amazing!

Thanks for checking in on this edition on the Roadrunner Chronicles. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

An Afternoon at the Natural Bridge in Virginia

We have overlooked this place many times in our travels.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I figured it was “too far out of the way”, which is a curious reason for someone who has been full-timing for 9 years. I think we just didn’t really think about it until it was too late.  Maybe it was like talking about stopping at the next fuel stop and realizing we just passed the exit...

This was our second choice, really.  Our first choice to visit was the George C. Marshall Museum and Research Library.  We looked at the map and we were only about five hours away from our starting point (Roadrunner RV Resort and Campground - Maynardville, TN) to the museum which is located in Lexington VA.  If we left between 7:00am - 8:00am we could still be at the museum in the early afternoon.

But there was only one problem:  The museum is closed on Mondays.  Ugh.  “Oh well”, I thought, we’ll just take it easy and get caught up on things.  I always have some writing to do (what blogger is every caught up on all the posts they intend to write?).

We got underway about 7:15 am and had a beautiful drive.  It was a sunny, warm and gorgeous spring day in East Tennessee.  We travelled up Highway 33 to Tazwell, then over to Highway 25 E through Morristown TN to I-81 north.  About 200 miles later, we took our exit for Buena Vista VA and the city campground at Glen Maury Park.  Some where along the way I was thinking about other things in the area that might be good opportunities to see.

The Virginian Military Institute (VMI) is located a few miles away in Lexington VA.  That was an option.  Another was the Natural Bridge of Virginia located about 12 miles away.  That sounded like a great choice so we drove over there.

What at great choice.  The entrance fee was $8.00 each and was a self-guided tour along an improved trail which was about a mile in each direction. In addition to being a well maintained site, it was a improved and updated.  I think the other time I visited here was back in 1977 or so.  I was stationed in Florida at the time (had not met Pam yet) and got to know Doug.  Doug was a VMI graduate and was getting married at the school and I was invited to the wedding.

Another friend and I drove here saw the Natural Bridge.  I thought it was an interesting place then, the bridge was cool, but I really don’t remember a lot about it.  I seem to remember the trail from the starting point was all dirt.  It is really a blur, but I know I have been here.

Fast forward 40+ later and it is an upgraded ‘very improved’ top notch park.  The gift shop and Visitor’s Center is big and well furnished.  It has an informative of historical charts and pictures along he walls for a good self-guided tour.
Visitor's Center
Starting Point for the hike on the Trail to the Bridge
Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek Trail
 The trial itself is a mix of stone steps and a flagstone 2’ flagstone wall along the river trail.  The trail itself is improved, flat and has some asphalt along some stretches.
The rest of it is hard packed crushed rock.  They are free of potholes and level and make the mile trail from the start to the end near Lace Falls, very easy.
Lace Falls at the end of the Trail
One thing that struck me was how ‘upgraded’ and expansive the maintenance was on the entire trail.  The entire Cedar Trail runs along side of Cedar Creek and it made me wonder if the Cedar Creek 5th wheel by Forest River was inspired by this famous area.  

We were interested to find out the State of Virginia got control of the park in 2016 when the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund (VCLF) had trouble making payments on the $9.1 million dollar mortgage. VCLF bought the park in 2013 but couldn't keep up with the payments and the state of Virginia took over and designated it as a State Park.

The main attraction - the Natural Bridge - is quite stunning.  
Natural Bridge
It is main of limestone rock and 215' with a span of nearly 90'.  Highway 11 runs right across the top of it. 
Natural Bridge
Thomas Jefferson bought the property and 157 acres which included the bridge in 1774.  It has been a notable place since 1742 when frontiersman John Howard came across the site.  Legend has it that George Washington was there as a young man as a surveyor. 
In the 1800's many famous guests viewed the bridge including:  James Monroe, Sam Houston, Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, Calvin Coolidge, John C. Marshall -- the list is long.
It could not have been a more delightful day and we loved it.  We got to thinking about how much we miss hiking and getting out to the parks.   We will have to do more of it this summer!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!