T Minus 1

We ended up having fewer rainy spells today, so Dave took advantage of the wee break and loaded the bed of the truck this afternoon while I gave Maggie a good clip. She relaxed to the floor right from the get and enjoyed the pampering. She is such a funny puppy!

Earlier in the day, we went down the road a bit to the nearby Food Lion to pick up a few staples to supplement our road trip provisions. We had a nice dinner of fettuccini alfredo and a chopped veggie salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, green bell pepper and carrots with a wee dollop of Ranch dressing.  Oh! And a piece of Naan bread for each of us. Yummers!

The guy who is the regular here returned from vacation today and is parked across the street with his bumper pull. He’ll move into this site when we leave Thursday.

Tomorrow I’ll stow whatever I can, leaving just the last minute things to secure prior to traveling. I’ll dump our tanks and Dave will stow the macerator system and water hose, leaving us running off our fresh tank and hooked up to shore power only. We’ll also hitch up to the truck.

I’m keeping an eye on TS Joaquin, although I think (and hope) it will be a nonissue for us since we will be heading westward Thursday. Just a while ago, the forecast for Lexington, SC (where we will spend our first 2 nights) calls for heavy rain Wednesday night with conditions looking better starting Thursday (the day we arrive). Same forecast for here has the heavy rain coming in Thursday night. I am totally okay with this.

Sounds like the disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico has fizzled out, and the longer range forecasts for stops along our route look downright decent with sunshine. Woot! I am really, really okay with that!

Of course, we all know it is prime hurricane season right now and storms can develop literally overnight. One of the advantages of having a home on wheels is being able to sit tight in place or get the heck out of harm’s way.

Speaking of which, looks like New Jersey will take a hit from Joaquin. If we were still there, we’d be prepping the rig for evacuation to higher ground, as we did during storms Irene and Lee back in 2011. We sure had some adventures up there and gained quite a lot of experience and knowledge in living with the Momma Nature.

Maggie is crashed out on a blankie atop a pile of pillows on the sofa bed here in the living room. She is cuter than cute when clipped, and I just know she feels so relaxed after some “spa time.” Did I mention she’s such a good dog? Others might fidget, whimper or even express displeasure with clipping, but not our Maggie. She digs it and gets into a Zen groove.

Well, what would you expect from a Lhasa Apso, eh? Buddhist monks and all . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

T Minus 2 Days

Today has been (and still is) another rainy and sometimes blustery, day. This is day #5, with the forecast now putting us in these conditions until after our departure on Thursday.

Today (Monday) is Dave’s birthday and, while we aren’t doing cards or presents this year, I did get him an impromptu gift the other day at Harris Teeter. This morning he had HP Sauce with his breakfast for the first time in . . . well, a long time. There have been occasions when I’ve actually been looking for some and have been unable to locate any, so this was a totally cool surprise. Yes, it’s for Dave’s birthday but . . . well . . . he generously shares his “stash.” Yummy! 

Despite the rain, I accomplished quite a lot today. My first stop was the AT&T store; Dave now has a new phone. The second stop was Walmart, where I picked up a few items, including new jeans for yours truly.

One pair of jeans had to be discarded last week due to being just plain worn out through in a couple of places. Another pair I have just don’t fit now after my weight loss of 25 pounds over the past year. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! After searching through every single pair on the rack of the type that works for me (sort of a jean/legging combo), I was able to find 2 pair that fit. Went ahead and got both of them; they were not expensive (it’s Walmart, after all) and I’ve learned that when finding something that fits and is comfortable it’s not a bad idea to get more than one.

On my way home, I stopped by the local Pilot to fuel up the truck. Diesel was $2.149 with our RVPlus Card discount. Nice! Sure is less painful on the bank account to fill the tank at that rate.

I did manage to dump 2 of our 3 tanks today in between rain showers.  Instead of the usual gravity dump hook-up, we have to use a macerator at this location due to lack of proper ground sewer outlet.  This is a much more time-consuming process:

  1. Unlock and open outside battery compartment.
  2. Unlock and open outside basement door of the control center housing tank valve pulls.
  3. Connect lead ends of macerator to battery.
  4. Open tank valve.
  5. Turn on macerator.
  6. Run macerator 10 minutes.
  7. Turn off macerator.
  8. Close tank valve.
  9. Disconnect macerator from battery.
  10. Allow macerator housing and the inline fuse to cool down for 10 minutes.
  11. Repeat steps 3. through 10. for draining another tank or continuing draining of same tank.

Due to the amount of time this takes, I don’t let any of our 3 tanks (2 gray and 1 black) become anywhere near completely full.

When hooked up to using the typical dumping system using gravity, i.e. sewer hose connected to ground sewer connection, this is the process:

  1. Unlock and open outside basement door of the control center housing tank valve pulls.
  2. Open tank valve.
  3. Wait for tank to empty (less than 5 minutes even when full).
  4. Close tank valve when tank is empty.
  5. Repeat steps 2. and 3. for additional tanks.

Call me overly cautious, but I am reluctant to be out there connecting and disconnecting the macerator from the battery when it’s raining. Hence, trying to get this done in between spells of rain today. I did have to stop before I wanted due to rain coming on again.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to having a regular sewer hook-up again.

I started this post Monday night and now it’s early Tuesday morning. Dave woke up a bit early and has taken over the watch, so I think I’ll start heading to bed.

Not an exciting day, but a productive one.

Thanks for stopping by!

Three More Days

Not that I’m counting.  You know how it is, though, when you have been in one location for a while. There are things that need doing and errands that need to be run.

Today ended up being laundry day, instead of Monday.  I swung by Harris Teeter (upscale grocery near the laundromat), where I scored yummy items for our trip such as fresh pasta, etc. We’ll make another run to the closer store before leaving for basics.

Dave has had his cell phone (Samsung Rugby) for literally years and he has been eligible for an upgrade for quite some time. The Rugby has been a good phone but has been acting up lately to the point of not being reliable, so it’s a trip to the AT&T store tomorrow for yours truly. Only “company” AT&T locations can service our Texas-based account. This really is absurd to me but has not been an inconvenience so far, as Radio Shack locations have been able to take care of us. Unfortunately, RS no longer services AT&T and has really cut back on their phone/phone plans sales and service. This leaves us no option but to find a company AT&T store. Fortunately, there is one here; often there are no company stores within a reasonable distance.

Long story short (sort of), laundry was today and AT&T will be tomorrow, with a wee trip to Walmart since it is near the AT&T place.

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We have had no rain for weeks and, of course, it started raining Thursday . . . and is forecast to do so through Thursday (departure day) at this point. It has not been torrential and there are periods when it stops briefly, but it has been raining every day most of the day and night.

We are also keeping an eye on the system out in the Gulf of Mexico and how it will impact the areas we will going. I’m hoping this will have passed on through by the time we head west. At least we are not on a strict timeline and can lay over here and there as needed if the weather is lousy.

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We have been enjoying a chess weekend, with matches Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. I whipped up a couple of nice dinners, too. The lunar eclipse was a nonevent here due to weather and extensive cloud cover. Oh well. We’ll just have to wait another 18 or so years, eh?

I think I’ll wrap this up for now. Won’t be long before Dave takes over the watch. Bless his heart; he just won’t go to bed Thursday morning after being on duty from about 2 or 3 AM. At least we’re not going far that first day, and we’ll be able to chill out for 2 nights there. I am really looking forward to being out from under a tree and away from vegetation surrounding our rig!

Thanks for stopping by!

Getting Shorter

This time next week we will be at Barnyard RV Park in Lexington, SC. Whoohoo! It’s countdown time, folks.

This past week I went for a final appointment with a dynamite stylist I found when we were here last year. I will say that is one good thing about this location. Channon gives me a cut just like I want at a very reasonable price, and she is a great gal to boot. If you’re ever in the Florence/Darlington, SC area, go see her at Studio 36 on the square in Darlington. Not only did I get another terrific styling on this final visit, but a warm sisterly hug when leaving.

Dave had spotted Palmetto Grocery & Grill a while back on one of his bike rides. It’s less 10 minutes from here in the truck out in the countryside, quite doable. They have weekday lunch specials and then a Saturday dinner special, typically steak of some sort. Their regular menu also has breakfast, burgers, sandwiches and some dinner plates. Last Saturday we decided to try it out, so went over for take-out. Rib-eye steak, potato casserole, string beans, roll and slice of chocolate cake for just under $9.00. You know what? It was pretty good and we each had half our order for dinner the next day. Not a bad deal.

It has been raining off and on (mostly on) since Thursday. We’re getting some of that disturbance in the Atlantic that is hitting the East Coast. I am also keeping an eye on the system approaching the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast. I am already glad I opted for a more northern route towards Texas versus dropping down to Florida and hugging the coast westward.

We’ll be on no strict timetable this trip, so we can lay over a few extra days here and there if need be.

The virtual assistant interview earlier this week went well, and I’m in the initial stages of becoming familiar with the platforms to be used, procedures, etc. It’s early days and time will tell if it’s a good fit for all concerned, but I do have a positive feeling about it so far. Sweet.

This weekend we’re essentially just hanging out and resting; Maggie will probably get a clip at some point.  We did get in a chess match this evening, another battle of the wits down to the wire. Looks like Monday will be laundry day with a stop afterwards at the upscale market near there to stock up on yummy groceries (fresh pasta, etc.) for the trip. Tuesday I’ll fuel up the truck and pick up any last minute items we might decide we want/need. Wednesday we’ll load the truck and hitch up, and Thursday we’ll roll through the gate. You realize, of course, there are many things to be done . . . checking tire pressures, stowing things for travel and so forth . . . I’m just not listing them all here. We’ll be busy starting Monday up until the time we roll, doing a few things every day.

Dave will be getting up before long and it will be my turn to hit the hay, so I’ll say good night or good morning for now. Hope you’re having a groovy weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

It Must Be a Totally Awesome Door . . .

First, I’ll take a minute to answer Susan’s question in the comments from my last post. An RV park in Bryan, TX will be our initial, and perhaps long-term, landing spot. I would really like to be closer to Brenham, but there is only 1 park there, and the most recent reviews on it were less than stellar.

Brenham really could use a decent RV park. I believe there would be enough business from overnighters, sightseers to the area and snowbirds to keep a good park ticking over. Anyone out there interested? Let us know if you want to put one in; we’ll run it for you! (In my dreams . . .)

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I have believed for many years that when one door in Life closes, another opens. Actually, I have known this to be true from personal Life experiences. I also know that everything happens for a reason in our lives. These are two concepts I pass along to my Reiki students.

One could easily say these two beliefs are being tested these days. I was notified today that my virtual assistant job is ending due to the project coordinator leaving the company. 

That was just a wee bit of a bolt out of the blue.

So . . . our security work ends October 1, my VA (virtual assistant) job of 2 years is gone (at least for the moment; I’m sure I will be contacted should they have projects in the future) and we’re being forced back to Texas so we can continue to have health insurance coverage.

Must be one heck of a door that’s gonna open, eh?

I had decided not to begin the job search for medical transcription employment until we land in Texas with the reasoning that I want to be available to begin work immediately upon receipt of an offer and to arrange for cable Internet service if needed. I think what I may do is follow the same path for the VA work, too. We have only a bit over a week before we depart this location and then 12 days of travel. I think I’ll take this time to rest, recharge my spiritual and creative batteries and enjoy our trip back to the Lone Star State.

Well, I actually do have an interview for another VA gig tomorrow, a possible opportunity that arose a few weeks ago. We’ll see how that goes. If it’s a match, I will, of course, jump on it.

These two job endings could be seen as setbacks and/or negative happenings and I could be very discouraged.

I am, however, hopeful.

“Really?”

Well, yeah, really, when I get in touch once again with my core beliefs.

I can see – envision – our new direction. I can see me doing medical transcription again, making a decent living and our having a laid-back and pleasant life, perhaps with Dave eventually doing some work for our site/pay somewhere. Yes, an enjoyable life, even in Texas.  (gasp)

I did it before, and my original plan (when contemplating going full-time as a solo back in 2003/2004) was to take my job as an MT on the road. At that time, I was a home-based MT living in Brenham. Sure, I put in a lot of hours at the keyboard, but I paid my bills and had enough left over to attend yoga classes once a week, have an occasional lunch out, keep my hair cut regularly, etc.  My critters never went hungry and neither did I. I also did more than just sit at the keyboard. Much, much more – cycled, camped now and then, did volunteer work, walked, took care of my yard and home, attended drum circles, taught Reiki on weekends, hung out with friends . . . you get the picture.

Why not have all that again? Well, not specifically those things perhaps (although I sure would dig hooking up with a groovy drum circle and I do miss teaching Reiki), but a well-rounded life with a profession I enjoy.

Indeed!

So, no, “Oh man, why is this happening?” but instead, “Wow. This is a whole new beginning!”

I can’t wait to see the reason for all this.

It’s going to be freakin’ awesome!

Thanks for stopping by!

Route to Texas Plotted

Although the route to Texas has been plotted and reservations made along the way for a while, I took this afternoon to compose my daily trip pages. They are done and printed. Yay! That’s one more pre-trip item done and dusted.

When traveling from points A to B over several states, I plot our route – the highways, etc. Next, I make reservations along the route. Once the route and reservation stages are complete, I look at each travel day’s route in detail – from start to finish – on Google maps. I make note of where we pick up a different highway, bypasses around large cities and explicit instructions to reach that day’s destination. I then type up all this information including total anticipated miles and the park information – address, phone number, rate, person who took our reservation, confirmation number, deposit, etc. 

Each travel day has its own page. Once complete, I print each page. Once printed, I consult my Allstays Truck & Travel app and the My Pilot app to locate rest areas and fueling locations along the day’s route. I hand write this info on the page for the day.

The page for the day goes in the truck for that leg of our trip. We have atlases (regular and Motor Carriers), of course, and I do have GPS on my phone; however, I find this method to work well. With my trip day page handy to refer to at crucial times, all I have to do is drive, follow my instructions and enjoy the trip.

If we had a shorter rig, it would be easier to get into smaller fueling locations and so forth. Being as it is, I’m not keen on trying to find someplace where I can get this big baby in and out without a hassle, and I like knowing I have a place to land us for the night.

Our upcoming trip back to Texas will be a journey of almost 1200 miles.  We have done mileage-marathon days in the past, but now keep the miles under 250 and sometimes even under 200. We have found we are much more relaxed, have more fun and are less tired with shorter days. This allows us to reach each day’s destination, set up, prepare dinner and chill out. We also build in layovers of 2-3 nights along the way.

The first segment will be only about 90 miles with a 2-might stay. We will have worked the night shift prior to leaving, meaning our shift ends around 6 AM the morning we leave. A short trip with 2 nights off the road will give us a chance to rest and begin the transition back into normal sleep patterns.

Then it’s two 1-night travel days followed by a 2-night layover in Alabama. After that, it’s travel 3 days and then down for 3 nights (the park in Beaumont, TX has a “buy 2, get 3rd free” special). This will set us up to go through Houston on a Sunday (avoiding weekday traffic nastiness), spending one night on the northwest side of Houston and then making our way on the final stretch to our last stop on a Monday.

With that done, there’s just a few last-minute items to do . . . a hair appointment for me this week, a stock-up grocery run and laundry day a couple of days prior to departure and, of course, prepping the rig and truck for hitting the road. I may even sneak in a bath and clip for Maggie.

We should be a bit lighter this trip, having rid ourselves of our dining table and chairs and our mini fridge, which conked out about a month ago. We may replace it when we get to Texas, but we’ll see; we may not need it with our living conditions changed (i.e., not conditions as in New Jersey like stocking up for snowstorms, etc.) and I like having the extra space without it.  My office setup – wee desk and filing cabinet – are not nearly as heavy as the dining set was.

I haven’t been blogging because things here are very routine and I have been working my virtual assistant job quite a bit.  That boils down to not having zilch to report and little creativity, time or energy to get together any sort of blog post.

We did play chess Friday and Saturday nights this weekend, epic matches as usual.

Oh! Dave has the early morning hours of duty, so had been enjoying the brilliance of Venus this week. I stayed up until just sunrise Saturday morning so I could see it, too. It was well worth the all-nighter.  Amazing sight, that.

I am looking forward to our trip. I intend to just enjoy it, take photos, be silly and blog about it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Counting Down the Days . . .

and, man, we’ll be so ready to pull outta here on October 1.

This has turned out to be pretty much the assignment from Hell. While our time here has given us a bit of boost in funds and an opportunity to regroup and plot a course forward, I have to say . . . it is horrid here.

Yes, it could be worse. If it were, we would not still be here; the only reason we are still here is from an ethic to finish our commitment and our loyalty to the companies we have worked with for the past several years.

After leaving here in March and then returning in July, we realize we didn’t just have our knickers in a knot when we left before. This truly is not a good environment for us and our home.

No, I’m not just talking about the ants which, after a hiatus of several days, have reappeared with a vengeance due the recent slight change in weather.

Dave is lucky to get 3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period and suffers from constantly blocked nasal passages. I have headaches daily and a freely running nose constantly. We both have episodes of tickled throats with coughing and burning, watering eyes. I am also experiencing more intestinal issues here.  I feel physically ill here most of the time. Dave stays exhausted due to lack of adequate sleep. We both often feel “itchy” with a crawling sensation on our skin, even though nothing is there . . .

Neither of us has even been up for chess the past few weekends, and you know we so enjoy our matches.

We remember we experienced these issues before, and they cleared up after we left.

One side of our entry steps turned green with mold? fungus? moss? Yeah, looked like moss, really.

Preparing a proper meal is tricky with having to keep things back in the fridge or up off countertops due to the ants. We really have not been eating great meals due to those logistical hurdles and the fact that our schedule (night shift) throws off our eating times. Neither of us has much of an appetite, anyway. We spray outside, keep crumbs off our counters, keep things sealed, wash dishes immediately, etc. The problem is simply too enormous here and has gone unchecked for so long here on the property that we will not be rid of the wee devils until we leave.

We are absolutely looking forward to getting some decent lettuce again. Produce here is subpar and we stopped buying lettuce weeks ago as it was a waste of money. I miss a green salad!

We dare not open our vents or windows due to not only the multitude of insects but also because of the odors here. Tonight it is very “green” smelling out, literally a “green” and plastics-smelling odor. This is from the water treatment ponds at the back of the facility.

Tonight it smells like Pasadena, TX. If you’re from that area, you’ll know the saying of “The air is greener is Pasadeener.” Ha! Yep. Smells like Pasadena tonight.

Other times one is “delighted” with the smell of smoke from area residences either burning trash or the burning off of fields. There is also a lumber place near the grocery store; fresh timber is brought there and cut, so one gets that smell, too. Yes, a wood smell can be pleasant, but this is almost overpowering.

Thankfully, we don’t have much longer here, and we’re just trying to hang in there until Oct. 1.

On that note, our route is plotted and reservations made along the way. We’ll spend our first 2 nights out at The Barnyard in Lexington (about 90 miles west). We will have been working the night before (with Dave getting off work around 6 AM on the morning of departure), so making our first move a short one and staying 2 nights will give us a chance to rest and begin adjusting to regular sleeping patterns again. 

One thing about reliving the unpleasant environmental issues here is that it reaffirms our previous decision to leave here.

We are hanging in, trying to stay healthy and retain (what’s left of) our sanity until we leave.

Just telling it like it is . . .

Thanks for stopping by!