Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And we're off!

Yesterday we left Goshen, Indiana, and drove down to Crawfordsville, Indiana, about 40 miles west of Indianapolis. We wanted to be on the west side of Indy. Today Terry had his two cardiology appointments. All went very well, including his treadmill, which he was dreading, and we had lunch out, then headed back to the campground. We are in the KOA and what can I say. . . it is a KOA--high price, small, narrow sites and solid tree cover. But we wanted location, so we paid for it.

Tomorrow we are starting our grand adventure west. We are spending the next two nights in Springfield, Illinois, then onward to Kansas, etc. I know we are going through Kansas, part of Colorado (have to stay below 8000 feet for Terry), New Mexico, and Arizona. We will spend some time seeing the sights in Arizona and then start working our way to the Rio Grande Valley for the rest of the winter.

To all you fellow travelers out there. . . stay safe and keep it between the lines.

Till next time. . .


Friday, September 25, 2009

Repairs X 3

Well, the trip back to Indiana from Virginia was far from uneventful. The first thing we noticed was a problem with the Brake Buddy. Terry said the compressor wasn't shutting off and it was continuing to fill, then depress the brake pedal, then fill again, then depress again. . . it just wasn't shutting off. So we unhooked it. Later when we stopped for lunch, he started playing with it again and thought that a wire may have been stressed and it worked multiple times for him, so we re-engaged it. It worked fine the rest of that day. The next morning it was acting up again, but eventually worked, so again we engaged it and headed a short distance down the road to our fuel stop. As soon as we got out of the coach, we could smell the brakes on the truck. Terry used his infared digital thermometer and some brake parts measured over 300 degrees. Ooh, ouch! Needless to say, it was disconnected then. A call to Brake Buddy and they said the compressor is failing. When we head west next week we are going through Kansas, so will take a side trip to their plant and they said they will fix it while we are there.

When we drove into Summit Lake State Park, we tried to deploy the jacks. They did not deploy properly, so we raised them. All raised up, but the system "thought" one was not up and locked. If one jack ain't happy, ain't none of 'em happy. Nothing but error beeps and lights at this point. So we sat there for the week with no jacks down. We were on level terrain, so it wasn't a big deal. We manage to get all our doctor appointments done and the vet appointment for Neal. Unfortunately, we have had jack trouble before; but fortunately, Terry learned how to bypass the system and disconnect all the beepers and warnings. The real problem, however, is that the levelers on our coach are directly tied into the air dump/fill system, so once everything is disabled, one must jumper across a couple leads in a box in the basement in order to fill the airbags. Without that, you cannot move our coach. So Terry called Gerald Straw at Charger Enterprises and explained what was going on. Gerald held a spot for us for Friday and said he would get with Atwood and try to have parts ready. We arrived Thursday around closing time and hooked up to 30Amp in front of Charger and spent the night.

Unfortunately, Terry woke up sick this morning, so as soon as they came for the coach at 7 a.m., I brought him over to the "storage condo." He apparently picked up a bug somewhere, so has been nursing his tummy all day.

At noon Gerald called to say the coach was done and even though the jacks were out of warranty, Atwood traded out the bad jack for FREE! Wow. I contemplated how I was going to drive over and get the motorhome, so Terry said he would ride along and help hook up the truck and I would drive it back. Alas, 'twas not to be. We got there, checked out the jacks, which worked to perfection, then proceeded to hook up the truck. The tow bar was broken! Arggggggg. It had a broken weld and there was no way we could hook up and tow with it. So, I drove the motorhome back and went down and begged our apartment manager to take me back to get the truck. He was happy to do it and I got to thank Gerald for the great service on our jacks. There are really great people, and if you are in Elkhart or you come here for service, this would be a good stop for you. It is located on CR6 between CR13 and CR11. . . not far from the Elkhart Campground. He is very honest and does a great job. In fact, Bob Tiffin is the one who told us about Charger. You can imagine my surprise the first time we came here when I found out that Gerald is the same Gerald Straw who graduated with me from Goshen High School. So if you do go, tell him I sent you!

Okay, back to the story. I was telling Gerald our tow bar problems and he suggested I ask at Dan's Hitch. Perhaps they could help us with the hitch and work with Demco on a repair. While I was waiting in line at Dan's, Terry called. He had contacted Demco about our tow bar. When he told them we were on the road and we couldn't mail it and get it back since we were leaving on Tuesday, Demco then directed him to a distributor in Elkhart where a BRAND NEW DEMCO ALUMINATOR tow bar would be waiting. Oh me, oh my. He called me and I was just a few blocks away, so I detoured and arrived at NTP Distribution and got our new tow bar. I guess when they say life-time warranty, they mean it. They have repaired it before, but they said since we were on the road, they would just replace it. What a great company!

So, a busy day, but one which turned out very well. Terry is getting better. I finally made it to the grocery and got him some popsicles, Pedialyte, yogurt and orange juice. I'm sure he will be better tomorrow. Too much sitting in doctor's offices this week for our yearly checkups. Who woulda' thunk sick people would be there. ho ho

Till next time. . .


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Parkview Pride!

In our former life, we lived in central Indiana near the town of New Castle. When we first moved to that area, there was both a J. C. Penny's store and a Sears store downtown. We spent many winters doing our Christmas shopping on Main Street. And as most Main Streets have died, giving way to Wal-Marts and malls, so did the Main Street in New Castle. Both Penny's and Sears are long gone. Somehow, however, the employees of Sears managed to stay in touch with one another and we would often see a notice in the community section of the local newspaper announcing the "former Sears employees" would be holding their monthly get together. I found that both amusing and incredible that people who worked together actually wanted to continue their association long after their business was gone.

For 20+ years I taught ninth-grade business and keyboarding at the junior high in New Castle. Our junior high had the distinction of being the only one in the state that was comprised of only eighth and ninth graders. There were 1100 students in those two grades when I started there in 1977 and when I left four years ago, there were not that many students in the newly restructured high school that now holds grades 9-12.

During my tenure at the junior high, named Parkview Jr. High, our staff was mostly hired by one man, Lew Larrison, who was the first principal of the junior high when it was built in the 70's and he remained there for . . . a long time. There is no doubt that the cohesiveness of the staff had a lot to do with the man at the helm. Not only was he a leader, but he was a compassionate and caring individual who made us feel we were the absolute best and that is why he picked us to be educators in his building. In fact, he recently told one of my friends and colleague that he felt looking back on his life, his legacy was the people he brought to the community.

Last year as we made plans to visit the area for our fall doctor appointments, a fellow retiree who is also an RVer suggested we invite some former colleagues we would like to see and have a "little" pitch-in. So we made a few phone calls and were pleasantly surprised when people showed up to share the evening with us. So this year, as we again discussed the possibility of another "reunion," we again made plans to coincide with our fall visit to the state park. The shelter was reserved, we called around and word soon spread.

We started gathering at 4 pm and I think the final count was 35. Wow! What a showing! We had some familiar faces from last year and some new faces. But the most special was when our former boss showed up! Now in his 80's, Mr. Larrison knew us all. He was amazed that after all these years, these people who he had brought together as a staff, still found they enjoyed one another's company to gather together and reminisce. (In fact, when he left tonight, we all called out, "Thanks for hiring us!") The junior high as we knew it back then, is no more, having been "restructured," but our friendships remain and we had a great time. We had dinner, then visited with one another and sat around the portable campfire. We are not all retired, some are still working. . . but we are like those Sears employee who just can't seem to let go of those with whom we shared a good part of our lives.

Great food, great times, great people. . . it just doesn't get any better than that!

Till next time. . .


Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaving Ronan. . .

It's always hard to say goodbye to the kids, but we had to do that last night. We took them out to eat at their favorite restaurant and we had a really great meal. In addition, Jocelyn and I had some margaritas, which were very good.

I have some pictures I took this week. Ronan is really into trains and has quite a few of the Thomas the Train track and accessories. Anyone who comes in is asked, "Play trains?" He likes to build track and then "crash" the trains. He enjoyed the new toy we brought him as well. We got him a remote control fire engine. He likes that as well, probably because it makes noise. This particular remote control just has two buttons. . . forward and turn, so he learned how to use it quickly.

Poor Whiskey. He had an encounter with a rose bush and started scratching and biting at his flank, so he has to wear a collar to keep him from bothering it. At least it is one of those inflatable ones. He actually didn't seem to mind wearing it. He took a day or two to warm up to me, but he does remember Grandma. He was coming to me by the end of the week.

Thursday morning we took Ronan and Jocelyn to the mall and we went to the "Build-A-Bear Workshop" where Ronan made his new horse. Actually he wasn't too "into" it, but he did help pick out the sound and put a "heart" in Banjo, which is what he named it. Banjo fits right into the stroller, so we walked him around the mall.

As always, our time with them seems all too short. It will be many months before we see them all again, but we will have plenty to do and see to fill the days. We will miss them though.

This morning we left Virginia and headed to Indiana. We are at the fairgrounds in Gallipolis, Ohio, for the night. Tomorrow we will arrive at Summit Lake State Park near our old home. That is where we stay when we are in the area for doctor appointments.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life with Ronan

We are certainly enjoying our grandson. And the rest of the family, including rescue Poodle Whiskey. Whiskey is extremely skittish and when the kids were at our house this summer, he became my pal. It took a while for him to remember me, but now he is letting me pet him and fuss over him.

Monday we took Ronan with us and started off at Carter's Mountain, which is an orchard on top of the mountain. There are beautiful views there and we bought a couple apples, but they really didn't look that good. The orchard mentioned they had 4000 people visit last weekend, so it was good we waited until a weekday!

After we finished up there, we drove on out to the campground. Ronan loves "Gramma's camper" and we played inside and out. I told his Mom I already had his Christmas presents. . . a couple new rocks and a stepstool. Seems to be what he plays with most when he comes out here. He certainly does enjoy "boy" things. We went for a walk up to the playground where he got to go down the slide. . . his favorite. We eventually walked back. When we put him in his carseat for the ride back to town, he promptly fell asleep. He certainly is a cutie.

Yesterday Jocelyn, Ronan and I took off for Lynchburg to the Children's Museum. Alas, 'twas not to be. She had checked on the hours for the museum, but did not call to verify and we found out they are closed this week for their annual renovation of exhibits. Boy, were we in trouble. Ronan was so disappointed and I felt sorry for him as he was really geared up for the museum, but we found a park and he played quite a lot. Later we went to Target where we bought him some new shoes and some new "car" gummies. I had thought he would fall asleep on the way home, but he stayed awake. He wanted to pet Neal before he left to go home, so he got to do that.

Today we are going into town for lunch at Christian's, our favorite pizza haunt, then we will be catching up with Ronan and Jocelyn at the park. Tomorrow night we are all going out to eat at the Continental Divide. Then Friday, we are headed back to Indiana.

We have a good wi-fi connection at the park, but uploading pictures takes too long so I will have to post those when our Datastorm goes up next weekend. Too much tree cover here.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the road again. . .

Written on Friday, September 11.

We left Goshen yesterday morning, September 10. I had a dental appointment at 2, so we got on the road about 4 p.m. We drove to St. Mary’s, Ohio, and stopped at Easy Camp. We have been here before and it is a decent overnight stop right on the highway. And we know that fellow “Class of 2005” members Dee and Dan Hawkey hang out here during the summer to be near family.

We got in just after 7 p.m. and Dee and Dan were surprised to see us. We stood and chatted awhile and after we got set up, we joined them at their campfire. What a beautiful night. It was cool, but not cold. There was a breeze in the air, so there were no mosquitoes. We sat out till almost 11 p.m. just talking and catching up with where we have been in the last year and talked about where our travels will likely take us this coming winter. And we are hoping to hear if Dan is confirmed as the new RV Czar--a very useful and needed position on Capitol Hill.

This morning we had coffee with Dee and Dan and chatted some more before we got ready to leave. We left around 9:30 and drove until 4:30. We took a different route and went through Pennsylvania. I’m not sure we will do that again. Lots of hills and driving in the mountains through those little towns, while quaint, is brutal on the brakes. We are stopped for the night at the Outflow Corp of Engineers Campground at Confluence, Pennsylvania. It is close to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. What a weird name. The town used to be called Falls City because of the falls. There is a lot of white water rafting here and there is a Class 5 rapids. The water is too low at this time of year for rafting on the rapids. They are quite beautiful and there are nice viewing areas for you to use. Our campground is actually just below the dam and the outflow is right across the river from our camp. When we called about getting a spot here we were told they were only half full. However, when we arrived, we found out there were no hookup sites available. No problem. We are in a nice large site without hookups but it is fine for overnight.

Tomorrow we will drive to Charlottesville, Virginia, to see our daughter and family. We are anxious to see them and to play with our grandson, Ronan.

Till next time. . .


PS: My pictures wouldn't load on my slow connection, so check back!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This 'N That

There are changes in store for visitors to the Elkhart Campground. Bobby and Gita have closed in the large pavilion behind the kitchen in the activities building. In addition to wrapping the outside, they have insulated and put up walls on the inside. It is one large room for now, but they are thinking they may air condition it as well.

Our work on the apartments is finally finished and we are chomping at the bit. We finished up today on the caulking on the new sliding glass doors on the two residences. While there we had to sample the pork loin Libby had cooked for her high school class reunion (60 years, I think). Wow, was it good. They are making pulled pork sandwiches with it. Did I tell you how much we love our tenants? She also plied me with cookies while I was there. Yum Yum.

Neal is working on getting rested up for the next big adventure. I bought him a new cushion called a "Snoozie." He loves it. From the minute I brought it in, he has spent his sleeping time either in his "hut" on his cushion or on his Snoozie.

Today I was looking out and saw a walker going by. We have a lot of walkers and bike riders in the neighborhood. He had his Ipod on and earbuds in but was looking up in the sky. I thought I had heard some old planes going by. We have a few enthusiasts in the area. But alas, 'twas not a plane. It was the GOODYEAR BLIMP! We actually see it a couple times a summer racing back and forth to Chicago or to Notre Dame football games. But this time, instead of being off in the distance, it was directly over the house! Wow! What a site. And it was low. Much lower than I have ever seen it. So, of course, I had to run in and grab my camera.
Tomorrow, I have a couple of appointments and we may be leaving in the afternoon. I am so ready to get rolling. I hate spending time in one place, but it is a necessity as long as we are landlords. But I do enjoy it when we leave!

Till next time. . .


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Has it really been that long?

Well, we've been busy. Being a slumlord is hard work at best. We have been camped at the Elkhart Campground and spending our days at the apartments taking care of "stuff."

Mostly supervisory stuff. We had windows to replace in one duplex, ten windows in all. We have been really impressed with this company. This is the third building they have done for us and they get started by 9 a.m. and finished by 3 p.m. The windows are great and the tenants love them. Easy to work and they can all be cleaned from the inside. The next big project was to replace two sliding glass doors. They are coming up on 30 years old and the weather stripping is shot. The doors are obsolete, so that means replacing the entire thingy. Terry bought the doors and had them delivered. Our roofing contractor also doubles as a general contractor and he put them in for us with the help of one other guy. They make it look easy. The doors are heavy and the work a little strenuous, but they had no problems. Terry had bought all the fillers, insulation, etc., they would be needing and he basically acted as the "gopher" getting them tools, etc., when they were needed. The doors are vinyl frame, so there is no painting--ever! Yay! Also, we had them "wrapped" with aluminum on the outside when finished, so they look exceptionally nice. Since the standard sized doors are not the same standard size of 30 years ago, we had to buy wider trim for on the inside. We made a visit to Miller Door and Trim in Goshen and found some old stock in their warehouse that will work perfectly. They are even finishing it for us, so all we have to do is nail it in place. Then that job will be complete. We really have great tenants and we want their homes to be comfortable and hope they stay forever! We enjoy a good relationship with them.

On another note. . . we have had yellow jackets. We thought at first they were honey bees, but they are not. We have them both at the main condo and at a tenant's house. So we called Orkin. Not sure we did the right thing there. After the first visit, we had MORE yellow jackets than before. We kept calling Orkin back and they kept telling us to give it a week. Finally Terry called and told them how unhappy he was with the service. So the next morning another guy came out and he hit them again. I must say that he did greatly reduce the activity, but there are still yellow jackets flying in/out of the nests and both places. This time they said to call back on Tuesday if they were still there. I think I will be calling again.

Last Thursday we closed the motorhome up. Phaeton Place had an appointment on Friday at Hill Truck Sales, Inc., for a 50,000 mile checkup. Hard to believe we have almost that many miles on the motorhome. Since our appointment was for 8:00, we decided it would be best to clean her up and get all unhooked, filled with propane and ready to go. Once we did that, we spent the night at the "storage condo" and in the morning, I took Terry over to the camp so he could go over to the service center. All is well with the coach and we brought her over to Goshen for the week.

We are staying here while I finish up a couple doctor appointments. On Friday the 11th, we are heading out to Virginia to see Jocelyn, Tom and Ronan and Whiskey. That should be fun. We are anxious to see them.

Last night we visited with my niece Staci and husband Kevin along with Brianna and Collin. Collin just turned two. He was born prematurely at something like 29 weeks 2 years ago. He was incredibly tiny, but has certainly beaten the odds and developed normally. He was excited about the new toys. It was good to visit with them and my other niece and family. . . Michelle, Rod, Kirstin and Kira. Kira was born 5 years ago and was born was a serious heart problem. She spent a month at Riley Children's Hospital. You would certainly not know the child had such a rough start.

Things are winding down for us here. We will be back up here for a few days the end of September between doctor appointments and close the place up. This extra step was made possible by one doctor canceling and rescheduling Terry's appointment. I'm not sure when they planned to tell us. . . we found out by accident. So, a little inconvenient, but hey. . . we're flexible.

Till next time. . .