Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tour 40CD

 Stix n Brix NC

Yesterday we took the MH back to the shop to have the slidetoppers tightened up a little.  The longer one over the living area slide was quite loose.  I noticed it held a little water when we washed the rig.  When we went to Murrells Inlet SC, a gentle rain fell the night before our departure so that when I closed the slide, enough water came out to drown and army.  The service manager said that they tightened them up but Winnebago doesn't put much of a pitch on the toppers so they will hold water sometimes.  I hope it's better.  I guess we'll find out next time it rains while we're camping.

We had to wait only a few minutes while they did this so what do you do at a dealer other than check out the new rigs.  :)  They have a nice Winnebago Tour 40CD on the lot so we sat in there for a while.  The link shows the actual MH.  We could live in that DP quite comfortably.  It is a bath and a half floor plan with a washer/dryer.  It's a new layout for 2010.  Maybe in a couple of years we can find a gently used one that is priced right for us.  In the meantime, our 2004 Brave 32V suits us just fine.  Wanda's paid for and has many good years ahead of her.

This is the week that the office is finally moving at work.  I'm on night shift so I haven't had to deal with the actual packing much.  The only thing is, I just don't know which office to go to.  I'll call in just before I leave the house.  It'll help to make the next 16 months go by a little faster to have a change of location and slightly different duties. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thinning the house

Stix n Brix NC

We've made plans for our first yard sale in May.  We might even do two of them if the timing is right.  Then it'll be a couple more big ones in the fall.  The house will sound hollow by then.  Sometimes I look in on some other blogs and realize that we've got a lot of work to do.

We've already gotten rid of a couple of things.  A few months ago, I was working at an antique show.  A couple of the dealers specialize in sterling silver.  It was a perfect opportunity for us to get rid of Gin's beautiful ornate set of Repousse that we never use.  I was a little surprised when I handed over the box as the dealer handed me the check.  I choked up a little.  I didn't have any emotional connection to the silverware at all but this was the first big step towards the goal of full-timing.

A few weeks ago, we got rid of one of our bedroom suits.  Gin's nephew Nick and his girlfriend Becca are expecting so they are setting up a new home.  They were glad to have it.  The timing could have been a little bit better but it's nice to have an empty room to put aside the yard sale items.  Gin asked me if I had any feelings about the furniture leaving.  I sure wasn't choked up, but Nick and Becca sure have hands full.

There is one thing that we agree may get to us a little bit.  That is getting rid of the Mazda Miata.  A few weeks ago, it wouldn't start up so a wrecker pulled it out of the driveway to the shop.  It saddened us both to see her hooked up on the flatbed like that.  It'll be different when someone buys it next year because it'll be a happy occasion.  I think there will be a lot of happy occasions ahead.  She's running smooth now and getting me to work and home safely.  Speaking of which, I've got a 16 hour workday tomorrow so I need to get some rest.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring cleaning

Stix and Brix

It was a beautiful spring day so we spent a lot of time outside.  I cleaned the carpet in the MH while Gin organized the basement storage areas.  We had bought a few things from Camping World that needed to be put away.  She then taped off an area around the door and cleaned off the rust and painted it.  Another coat will go on tomorrow.  I cut up a bush that had fallen victim to the last snow that was just a little too heavy for it.

We are planning to go on a different kind of trip in a couple of weeks.  It’s our first rally.  Howard and Linda of rv-dreams are putting on a rally in Longs, SC.  Luckily it falls mostly during my week off so we are going and looking forward to meeting some bloggers that we have been following for awhile.  We should learn a lot about full-timing along with the fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Stix n Brix

Travel day and of course it was drizzling.  It was a 400 mile round trip.  It sure will be nice when we don't have to say "round trip".  I think 200 miles is about all we will want to travel at one time for the most part.  Some talk about a 222 rule.  That is 2 hours of driving and then a rest stop, 200 miles total driving, and find a CG for the night about 2:00.  That sounds like a reasonable travel guide to me.

Well I'm kinda tired and it's time to get back to the grind.  We've done a load of clothes and gotten a few things out of the MH.  I'm not looking forward to the laundry mat aspect of full-timing.  Hopefully some CG's that we'll stay at will have decent facilities.  Later...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brookgreen Gardens part 2

Murrells Inlet, SC
Huntington Beach State Park site #119

It’s been a cool overcast day but it’s our last full day here.  We have to leave tomorrow to go back to our stix n brix and the job.  We decided to go back to Brookgreen Gardens to check out the zoo.  It has a nice paved walkway amongst the trees to shelter you from the cool breezes.  The animals have a natural habitat to surround them and they are all rescue animals.  The birds of prey have been injured or were born in captivity and cannot live on their own in the wild.  Some owls had three healthy hatchlings a few years ago and they were released into the wild.  Gin took a lot of photos but I’ll try to cut it down to just a couple dozen.  Enjoy…

The first exhibit area was of a Cypress Swamp dominated by bald cypress and tupelo gum trees.  The water is a dark tannin color from the decaying of leaves and such.  There was an aviary with great blue herons…
white ibis…
black-crowned night herons which are more active at night…
and cattle egrets which are social creatures like this one on the walkway coming towards us…
IMG_0227 IMG_0243
The next exhibit was the river otters River Basin Retreat which were very interesting to watch.  They can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes, can swim up to 7 mph, and run up to15 mph.  They have so much playful energy.  The first display was a tank that housed two that were nonstop action.  The next display was a more natural setting.  They use plastic dog houses for their homes and two were curled up napping while another was swimming in the water…
IMG_0283 IMG_0287 IMG_0289 IMG_0307 IMG_0315
Then there was the North American Alligator.  He had an exhibit all to himself, of course.  He was big.  He didn’t move but we did see him blink so he was real and not a rock…
The next exhibit area was the Upland Forest which is a little higher and drier than the Lowcountry swamps.  There were displays of foxes and birds of prey in their secure aviaries.  As we approached the fox display, we could smell a pungent odor.  Since the fox is in the same family as dogs, they mark their territory with their urine.  It was a strong smell.  First for the red fox …
and then the gray fox.  I was surprised to see them up in a tree but  they have strong hooked claws enabling them to climb much like a cat.  Both species are nocturnal…
There is a mating pair of Bald Eagles with the female nesting a couple of eggs…
Next is a Great Horned Owl…
and a Barred Owl…
Then a Red-Shouldered Hawk…
and a Red-Tailed Hawk with the female keeping her eggs warm…
Then we came upon a more natural display called the Forest Edge.  The habitat is a little more open.  They had several bird feeders full of food for the titmouse and cardinals but this Southern Fox Squirrel was eating his share.  They are bigger than the gray squirrels that we are familiar with.  He posed for several shots…
IMG_0405 IMG_0410
There were Canada Geese and White Swan but they were camera shy staying at the far end of the pond.  The Wild Turkey had some proud tom’s displaying their plumage...
The last aviary had some owls and vultures in a very natural setting.  The vultures weren’t shy but they are not very photogenic.  :)  We did see a pair of barred owls up in a tree resting…
The last habitat was the Savannah.  It was a very open area that had some deer in the edge of the trees just resting.  We could barely see them because they are shy.  You have to enlarge the photo by clicking on the pic to see her…
I hope you enjoyed coming with us to the zoo.  As you can tell, we love animals.  I wouldn’t mind volunteering here for a couple of months for free camping across the road, if that is a possibility.  We need to pack up a few things for the ride tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Murrells Inlet, SC
Huntington Beach State Park site #119

Since we had spent quite some time walking at Brookgreen Gardens on Sunday, I thought that Monday would have been a day to relax but we stayed busy.  Gin started the day by saying that we needed to spend some money so we went to Camping World near Myrtle Beach.  We had made a list a few days before so it was planned and needed.  It was a nice day so we went for a bike ride and geocaching.  As I pedaled across the causeway, I glanced to my right and saw an alligator just a few feet from me basking in the sunshine.  There is a wonderful 6-8 feet wide paved bike path as you enter the state park.  We rode for about 9 miles.  If that wasn’t enough exercise, we hiked the nature trail about 3 miles round trip.  We were looking for a cache that we missed last year when the battery died just as we got close to it.  We found it and the beautiful view of the ocean from the viewing platform.  We walked some more so we were sore.

So Tuesday was a restful day for us.  We still went for a bike ride and found another cache but not that far.  Not much walking involved either.  We started an afternoon campfire and enjoyed relaxing there until dusk.  Another raccoon awakened from his perch in a nearby tree.  It was another day of reviving the body and rejuvenating the soul.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Brookgreen Gardens

Murrells Inlet, SC
Huntington Beach State Park site#119

Yesterday we went to Brookgreen Gardens for a few hours to leisurely stroll through the sculpture gardens.  It’s right across from the CG and was also property once owned by the Huntington’s.  He was a philanthropist and poet while she was a sculptor.  They bought three large old rice plantations in the 1930’s to establish a winter home with better climate than New York.  Early snowbirds but on a grandiose scale.  :)  When they passed away, they deeded all this ocean front property to the state of SC so that it could become a beautiful state park for the public to enjoy.  I’m very thankful that they did.  If you stay at the CG, get a coupon for the gardens at check-in.  The ticket at the gardens is good for 7 consecutive days because it’s so large that you can not see it all in 1 day.  We intended to get to the zoo area, but that will have to wait until another time.

It was a cool breezy stroll and we were tired when we finished.  I had seen a brown sign on the main road pointing to a boat landing (Wacca Wache) that was on the Waccamaw River.  It’s a nice landing with a marina and nice looking restaurant on the waterfront.  We may take our kayaks there someday when we’re full-timing.  After an early steak dinner, we sat by the campfire in the evening and enjoyed more time in Sylville.  Our neighborhood raccoon wandered around the edge of the woods but didn’t bother us.  As long as I can see what’s making all that noise, it’s ok. :o

We tried out our new camera so here’s some shots of some of the many very nice sculptures.  I must say that my favorite ones were not made by a person but rather by nature.  The live oaks there were absolutely magnificent.  They look like sculpture the way their branches twist around.  One old tree was standing there before the US Constitution was written.

The Fountain of the Muses…
That beautiful old Live Oak…
Gin in the sunlight…
Gray beards in the trees…
Lioness and cub…
Forest Idyl…
Seated Faun…
The grounds…
Me in the shade… 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Morning visitor

Murrells Inlet, SC
Huntington Beach State Park site #119

We enjoyed sleeping late and had a leisurely breakfast.  Out of the corner of our eyes,  we saw a furry critter in a tree just a few feet up from our dinette window.  The first thought was that it was a very big squirrel but there were rings around the tail.  It was a raccoon about 20 feet up a tree.  We watched him scratch an itch as he watched people walk on the CG road beneath him.  After a few minutes, he moved up a branch to a clump of leaves.  We thought it was a squirrel's nest, but apparently it was his home.  He curled up for a nap.  I never knew they slept in trees.

Later in the morning, I was sitting in a lounge chair outside just relaxing when I saw an owl silently glide through the woods and land on the ground.  The woods are too thick to get any photos but it's so nice to just enjoy nature from your front porch.  We like this campsite a lot.  I didn't have to climb up the ladder to get the satellite dish down.  It's a vu qube.  It works from the roof of our MH or from the ground with the proper cable.  That'll come in nice when it's time to pack up too.

It was a very windy day and the CG was a bit crowded with the week end warriors so we just had a very relaxing day around the campsite.  We'll try to get out more tomorrow but we both needed some down time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

First Trip 2010 (Murrells Inlet, SC)

Murrells Inlet, SC
Huntington Beach State Park site #119

That's right.  We hit the road this morning and landed at the beach.  Doesn't that sound like the way it should be.  Of course you pretty much have to have reservations if you want to stay in this CG because it's a popular place.  It's our first trip of the year and we liked it here so much last year that we had to come back.  We drove through a little bit of misty rain on our way here so that wash job didn't last very long.

Late last fall, we had the MH brakes worked on.  The MH is on a Workhorse chassis.  It's a good product in general, but they have a recall on the brake system.  The calipers will stick.  Well it's mighty flat here but our brakes still got a little hot as we got into Myrtle Beach.  I really began to feel uncomfortable when the steering wheel started to shake when I got up to 50 mph.  I of course slowed down a bit and the brakes had a chance to cool some so I'm not too worried about it.  They never got soft or weak.  Hopefully Workhorse will get the "fix" out soon.

We got set up pretty easily and took Smudge for a stroll and took our bikes for a ride.  We took a quick look at the ocean.  It's still there and pretty awesome.  It's hard to believe that even though we have lived about 100 miles from the Atlantic Ocean all our lives, we once went about 10 years without going to the beach.  I just can't imagine that now.  Gin had put an electric motor on her bike this past winter, and she had people strike up a conversation with her about it today.  She used an e-bike kit on a Townie single speed bike.  She can peddle when she feels up to it or accelerate with a push of a button.  She might have to build one for me next winter.  :)  Here is a pic of the bike.

It's been a full day so it's time for a shower and a good nights sleep.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds.  This is definitely a Sylville type CG.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

32 to 42

Stix n Brix

Sunday was a busy day for us.  Our 32 foot MH became a 42 foot MH.  No, we didn’t trade her in.  That’ll come later.  We washed her.  She sure needed it.  We were so sore that evening.  I couldn’t even hold my arms up to type a post.  First, I climbed on top and washed it with a brush and a bucket of soapy water.  Boy that was some dirty water when I finished.  Then we did the sides.  Gin used the power washer to put the soapy water on, I scrubbed the sides with the soft brush, and then she power washed the dirty soapy water off.  It took us over 3 hours to do it, but Wanda sure looks much better.

That’s not all we’ve been up to lately though.  I’ve been at work and Gin’s been busy getting things ready to go.  She has replaced a bad converter and put in a nicer shower head among other things.  This time of year, we get a little stir-crazy.  I’m sure a lot of people get a bad case of hitch-itch.  We also got a nice new camera to get familiar with.  It’s a Canon Rebel EOS T1i  with a 55-250 zoom lens.  We’re going to Murrell’s Inlet, SC in a few days, and we are looking forward to it.  Brookgreen Gardens is just across Hwy 17.  Hopefully, we can check it out and get some pics.  Our main plan of action is relaxing and enjoying some time in Sylville.

Friday, March 5, 2010

...but the Main Reason

Stix n Brix


I've tried to compose this post in my head for a few days now but I'm not sure how well the words will come out.  When I say that we try to take one day at a time because each good day is truly a blessing, I feel that we have had an earlier awakening to that fact than many people that we know.  I have led a very blessed life and couldn't be happier with where my journey has taken me.  Gin's MS has made for a bumpy ride at times.  She is a very strong-willed person and has pushed through a lot.  I want to share some of her journey.

She was going through life as any normal person does...taking tomorrow for granted...when suddenly one day, the left side of her body went completely numb and very weak.  It was January 1990 and she was just 26 years old.  It was as if she had a stroke.  She was using a walker just to get around.  She went to a neurologist and had some tests done.  It was Multiple Sclerosis.  It's an autoimmune disease which means that the body's immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissue.  In the case of MS, that tissue is the myelin sheath which covers and insulates the nerve fibers of the central nervous system.  The brain sends the signals to your body to do a certain thing, but the pathway is interrupted so that the signal is not received.  There is no cure and the treatments have a varying amount of success on improving the quality of life.

There wasn't much treatment available back then and she pushed her way through a lot.  Since her symptoms manifested so severely, she was able to get disability.  Everyone with MS has different symptoms, and each day is different for the individual patient.  As a reminder of that, she woke up blind in one eye in 1997.  She went to the hospital for a very high dose steroid treatment.  She walked in with complete ease of mobility but rolled out in a wheelchair.  MS hit her very hard for several months.  She used the wheelchair for about 6 months.  We got rid of a fishing boat and a pair of waverunners at that time.  We knew that "home" was important to us so we made plans to have a more accessible house built.  In 2000, while under the stress of dealing with a contractor, she relapsed and went to the hospital some and spent more time in her wheelchair.  She has been on several different treatments since 1997 and the one that she is on now is Tysabri.  She gets an IV treatment once a month.  It's hard on her for a couple of days but that wheelchair is getting dusty in the closet.  Currently, her symptoms aren't that noticeable to most people, and she get's the most she can from every day.

We know it may be hard for people to understand, but we tend to look at Gin's MS as a blessing in disguise.  It has made us aware how precious life is at an earlier age.  We have also been able to spend more time together since Gin hasn't had to try to battle with a job and the disease.  Fatigue is one of  the hardest symptoms for her to deal with.

We have been able to evaluate our life with open minds and we realize that "home" is very important to us yet we like to be on the go when we can.  The best way to have a condo at the beach, mountains, and lake is to have a home on wheels.  At times, it may be an up hill battle but we've been through a lot.  Gin is a rock and I guess I'm a pebble.  So you see, we really mean it when we say that life is too short!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Present day and some reasons...

Stix n Brix NC

We enjoyed looking back at last years travels and hope it was a nice trip for you too.  As you can tell, we enjoy the natural settings offered by the CGs where we stayed.  It helps us to find beauty in the ordinary.  All totaled, we spent 62 nights RVing and enjoyed every one of them.  Wish it could be more.

When I tell folks that we plan to sell everything and travel in a MH when I retire, I sometimes don't think they quite understand our choice.  There are many reasons, and I want to touch on a few of them now.  Life can get to be a bit of a rut, and having a different back yard, so to speak, eliminates any ruts.  We'll be more active physically and mentally.  Gin's MS can act up at any time but fulltiming will keep her more active and healthier.  We can follow the weather.

One aspect that's important to me is the interaction with fellow rvers.  They are generally a nice friendly bunch of folks with a positive outlook on life.  I think we fall into that category also.  We would like to do some volunteer activities while we're on the road.  A couple of them that interests us are Habitat for Humanity and Escapees CARE.  Sure a person can get involved with a volunteer organization while living in a stix n brix, but it can sometimes feel like you are obligated to continue even if your heart isn't in it.