Thursday, April 13, 2017

Home Improvements - Part 1

It has been a good while since I posted here. I have been meaning to get back into regular posting, but somehow always seem to get distracted. The husband and I have been busy making various improvements to our home on wheels. =)

Last year we finished the exterior paint job. It took probably a full year to remove ALL the decals, tape, and repaint everything outside. We still need to do another application of clearcoat, but that will come in time. I'm sure it would have gone significantly faster if we'd have had a garage to house Gertrude in while we were painting. As it was, we were at the mercy of Mother Nature to provide rain-free, LOW wind days with which to work. Paint completed March 2016




The next project to tackle was the flooring. We discovered a leak in the bathroom and found that a significant portion of our subfloor was rotted and needed replacing. There were also support boards and wall panels that had been ruined from years of neglect by previous owners in regards to the leak. So we tore up the floor, replaced the cheap MDF with plywood, put down vinyl tile floors, cut out and replaced the ruined supports, and then stained and replaced the wall boards. We decided to change the walls in the bathroom to a plastic wall board that was MUCH cleaner looking, as well as easier to maintain in the bathroom than wallpapered walls. While we had everything torn apart we also installed a new porcelain toilet. It was quite the investment, but it is taller than a standard RV toilet and far more sturdy than the one that was there originally. This renovation completed December 2015.





The next problem we found was sway when we traveled down the road, plus roughness of the overall ride. So hubby installed new shocks and a track-bar underneath the coach, and replaced the bushings on the rear of the MH. He also order and installed automatic wheel balancers on all four tires. He also discovered we had a bent wheel. We replaced it with the spare (also a full sized tire) and are happy to report we no longer shimmy at 60 MPH going down the road and have FAR less instability overall! Sadly, no pictures of these improvements. Completed August 2016.

I will post more next week. I need to go through all of our receipts and figure out the timeline on everything so I don't forget anything... *grin*




Saturday, January 2, 2016

The wheels on the Gertrude go round and round....

So our wheels have been turning a bit here lately. Less than I'd honestly prefer, but a bit. We spent November near San Antonio, TX, Christmas around Waco, TX, and now we're back in NE Texas for a bit. We still haven't left the state in Gertrude3, but it IS a big state. hehe

We have done more decluttering and organizing in our travels as well. We have even done some pretty major remodeling.




Remodeling: We took out the old wood flooring and found that a portion of our subfloor was mush from years of water damage (a leak that was fixed with a couple new rubber washers). So we took out the damaged subfloor, cut off the bottoms of supporting board that we nearly all black from water damage, replaced the OSB with plywood and fixed the supporting boards. We also removed damaged panels from outside the bathroom and replaced them. We installed new vinyl panels inside the bathroom and installed a new "super pooper" in our "throne room" as well.  The above pictures show the flooring and new stained panels and the new bathroom.





Decrapifying: We removed all the tools from our tool compartment underneath and installed a drawer system to house them all. We kept one nicer toolbox, that hold certain telecom related tools and my Dremel and attachments. This is now homed in a different compartment. We ditched the tent with the broken pole (elastic was broken and missing in one of the poles year ago). We cleared out some other items that were rather bulky and rarely, if ever, used. We went through our chairs and such (kept our best 4 chairs) and installed another shelving system in that compartment to better organize that area. We purchased a hitch-mount bike rack for the car and moved the bike to their new home on the back of the car. We can now hang our large lounging chair on the ladder rack. We shed a laundry basket and several cleaning supplies that we haven't used and likely would never use. We went through our extra spices and reduced those, as well. The above pictures are of the shelving unit for the tools and the drawers. The bottom picture is what we used for the chair compartment, we cut some of the pvc pipe and made it better suit our size needs, then used two shelves to divide the area as needed. We also used one of the shelves under the tool storage drawers to raise it a couple of inches so we could easier access the bottom drawers of the tool storage area.



We have found that we are really enjoying sizing things down so that our storage areas are used more efficiently. Every home has its projects to work on, whether it is a stationary sticks & bricks home, or a home with wheels on it. So we aren't bothered by the things we have had to tackle. I haven't been able to get around to doing much more painting on the outside, but that requires certain weather conditions to work in my favor. I take a lot of pride in the things we have done throughout our new home on wheels. There is a wonderful sense of joy that comes with knowing that you and your family did the work to make it what it is currently. All four of us (we worked while my son was home on leave) put in the blood, sweat, and tears to do the remodeling work that needed to be done. We finished it in a matter of 3-4 days. It was no small task, but we pulled together and worked some 14-16 hour days to make it happen. Our Gertrude may a have some age to her, but over time, she'll be better than new. I'm excited to see the improvements that are yet to come for her.

Safe travels, friends!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

House? What house?

Just last week my dear husband asked me if I missed being in a house. I remarked that with every passing day (or week) I remember less and less what it was like BEING in a "regular" house (or a sticks and bricks, S&B, as the RV community refers to it).

For those of you our there with children, I think you might understand. Think back to your life before kids. The older they get, the harder it seems to be to remember "life without littles," before you were Mom (or Dad). Now as the hubby and I embark on our next stage of life ("empty nesters") we find ourselves once again living without littles, in a sense. When he posed this question last week, I tried to think about living in our S&B. Concentrating on what I did day by day. Nope...nothing...not a thing...blank. Was that really only a mere 2 or so months ago? It seems such a long time ago.

We are currently parked next door to my parents. My daughter has been staying with them for the past month and working in the area. So we're not totally "empty nesters" yet, as she doesn't leave for Navy basic training until late March but we've tried it on for size over the past 30 or so days. I do miss my children and love them fiercely!! That being said, I am enjoying thoroughly this time with it being just my lovely husband and myself. We became Mom and Dad not long into our marriage, so now 21 years later, we are a bonafide couple again.

In the house, we would wander to our separate rooms to do work or relax. We'd come together for bed at night. Perhaps we'd watch a couple of sitcom reruns, go to sleep, wake up, off to work, and then repeat daily. We rarely did things together, truly. Today, after setting up our home, we took a bike ride. First we just went down to the park next door and rode along beside the river. Then we both started to feel hungry, so we bravely (didn't know it would be so until half way in) "rode" the short way into town to a local eatery. I got to a particularly daunting (for me) hill and found myself pedaling little and walking (trudging) up the hill instead. I made it all the way to the establishment, but not without a little bit of wobbly knees. (Note to self: EXERCISE MORE!! You WILL be able to ride up this hill before the end of the month, and not feel as though you're dying shortly after reaching the peak. Ha!!) I treasured this time!! We were spending fantastic quality time together! We took a few pics while out and smiled a LOT. THIS is the greatest thing about this adventure, in my honest opinion. I get to fall in love with my husband all over again each and every day!

I'm watching The Little Mermaid right now in the background as I type. It has come to the song..."Look at this stuff, isn't it neat, wouldn't you think my collection's complete...." and it really hearkens back to our time in the S&B. We had a bunch of "stuff" and most of it just lying around not being used, or even seen. Now I'm in a 36ft motorhome and in a day, I can see all my "stuff". There is very little in this new home of mine that doesn't serve a purpose. I don't find myself rummaging through anything and saying "Oh! Why did I get that again? When did I get that thing?!"

So as I relax and settle in for the evening with the windows open, a cool breeze gently blowing through our home, and listen to the sounds of joyous neighbors enjoying some evening conversation I once again think..."House? What house? I'm so very happy to have my current home."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sprucing Her Up - Part 1

As you know, our dear Gertrude is 16 yrs old. Her clearcoat is almost gone all over and the vinyl decals are showing their age. So the hubby and I have decided to clean her up quite a bit. We looked in to having it painted professionally, this would cost us several thousand dollars and we would have to vacate for a time. Considering this is our home, that is not really a possibility (and we aren't keen on spending so much either).




Over the years I have dabbled in painting and various crafts. I helped design and paint/draw out my son's treasure map themed parking space.



So for my wedding anniversary this year, I am getting paint and a complete airbrush setup. We are taking this thing on ourselves! We are not planning on doing this all at once. We don't have a garage in which we can contain our MH and do the work on that grand a scale. So we're going to do sections at a time. I will be making my own stencils of the logos and starting there.

Here is a picture of one of the logos. It is dried from age and starting to crack. It isn't peeling too badly, but definitely showing signs of age.


I put velum over this and traced it out so I could make a stencil. Then I got some adhesive paper-type stuff and transferred the tracing onto there backwards (because of where the sticky is located). Here is an image of the stencil before I cut it out.


The next step is removing the old decal and cleaning/sanding the surface to prepare it. I removed the decal, but still have a lot of cleaning to do to remove the remaining adhesive. Here is a pic of that so far.



My airbrush setup is slated to come in this Friday. Looking forward to getting it and playing around with it. 

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Missing out?



There's an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you sell your house and decide to move into a "recreational vehicle" as your permanent residence. Lots of people consider you "homeless" and lacking in every day conveniences.

There are some amenities I no longer have at my disposal by being in a motorhome that I had in a traditional "sticks & bricks" house.


A DISHWASHER:
     Years ago when I was still living at home with my parents, we were out searching for a new house. We went into several nice homes when we happened upon a quaint little place. There were plenty of bedrooms, a nice yard, decent overall square footage. We got to the kitchen and my mother and I began looking around. My mother asked "Where's the dishwasher?" The realtor politely replied "Oh. There isn't one." Apparently, according to my father, both my mother and I lost ALL interest in the property immediately. He might as well have said there was no indoor plumbing. Ha! My Dad was incredibly embarrassed at the time, today we all laugh about the whole experience. I'd like to think I've grown since then. hehe
     I had a lovely dishwasher in our previous home. More times than not, disagreements arose as to who was responsible to loading and unloading it. And lots of times dishes stacked up and could not all be fit into this wonder of modern technology, so old fashioned washing by hand still needed to be done. In Gertrude, there is no dishwasher. Loading the dishwasher would require some sort of adult beverage for myself, generally. hehe And to be perfectly honest, I haven't missed it at all! Given the limit in space, not as any dishes get used in meal preparation and so there isn't as much to take care of in the end. I know everything is clean and there is no need for picky inspection of things coming out of a dishwasher that didn't quite get clean.

PRIVATE PERSONAL BATHROOM/TUB:

     Now don't get me wrong! My motorhome DOES have a bathroom...complete with tub/shower combo, sink, and toilet. However, the RV Park where we are staying has private bathroom facilities that have a sink (some with double vanities), a toilet, and shower. We use theirs for all bathing needs...and I LOVE IT! I don't have to clean toilets, mirrors, showers, sweep/mop floors, refill TP, etc... The provided facilities are sparkling clean every time I have used them! They are cleaned once a day by someone other than me!! I thought I'd miss my soaking tub, but it hasn't really bothered me. These facilities being available have moved to one of the top spots on our must-have list for future travel destinations. I'm thrilled that I haven't had to use the shower in the RV as of yet, especially since I am using it to store our shower items and medicine/first aid caddy.

NEIGHBORHOOD POOL:

     Honestly, I didn't use our neighborhood pool as much as I should have. Usually there were several teens or small kiddos there, and many times they took up much of the pool area. There was a "kiddie pool" but no hot tub. At our current location, there is both a pool and a hot tub. We have found ourselves down there hanging out in the evenings more often than not. As it gets cooler out, this won't be as big a priority, but for now. LOVE IT! And again, I don't have to take extra care of it.

WASHER/DRYER:
     We have an old Army bag of my husband's for all of our laundry. Seems that we go about 7 days before needing to do a load. We wash everything on cold, and all together in one load. It costs us about $4.25 to wash and dry a full load here at the site's laundry facilities. Takes probably an hour and a half to two hours total, but that's no biggie. This is FAR less expensive than the laundromat in town I had to use when our washer broke a few months ago in our house. And I do like that everything gets done at once and then folded/hung up and put away right away. 



     So overall, I'm thinking RV life suits me! I'm enjoying cleaning up and organizing around Gertrude. I am getting out usually once a day and riding my bike or walking for some exercise. I'm more at peace. So I might be "missing out" in some people's eyes, but they're missing out on the calm that I wake with every morning knowing there's no dishwasher to unload, bathroom to clean, etc...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

As one journey begins...

Another one ends.

Friday, two days ago, we closed on our sticks and bricks house. Two days before that we went to a nearby Corps of Engineers park and set up camp for the next 10 days. We had been moving things into the RV for a couple weekends, but Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were the last days to get everything out of the house and into the motorhome, and get rid of what wasn't going with us. We agonized over the decision on whether or not to get a storage unit. We ended our stay in the house with the following furniture; a platform-type king sized bed, a full-sized futon, a small bedside table, an entry table, and some cubicle furniture. We decided to put it into storage for use by our children in the event that they needed something to start them out in life. It isn't much, some kitchen items we weren't using, towels we didn't need in the MH, sheets, blankets, a lamp or two, etc...

***I might note that both of our children are currently in the U.S. Navy. Our son joined about 2 years ago and is currently serving aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt. Our daughter graduated high school this past June 2015, and also decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy. She leaves for basic training 26 March 2016.***

The night before we were to close on the house we had an emergency. Our beloved Chihuahua, Daisy Mae, was not feeling well and had to be rushed to the Emergency Vet Clinic. She had a heart murmur detected a few years ago, but had never had a single incident of trouble with her respiratory system. On the way to the vet, she was intermittently going limp, spacey-looking eyes, blueish-grey tongue, and possible had a mild seizure. She had to stay overnight in the the puppy ER, and she wasn't out of the woods yet when we picked her up the next morning around 7:30am. We were informed she had fluid on her lungs, and was suffering from congestive heart failure. We rushed her to our regular veterinarian and he kept her there, giving her oxygen and was also able to get some of the fluid off of her lungs, We closed on the house, but I was a wreck throughout the night before and that entire day. I was doing better on Saturday and things were looking up when the vet called around noon to say she was doing better, not ready to come home yet, but seemed to be breathing a little easier and less fluid on her lungs. About 30 minutes later, he called again and said she didn't make it. She had simply fallen asleep and passed. I was a mess!!! This had been my baby dog for 14 years. She had LOVED the short trips we'd taken in the RV over the past year. She would bound out the door and into the car whenever we mentioned going to see Gertrude (the name of our motorhome). I take comfort in knowing that I didn't have to decide to "have her put down" and that she passed peacefully on her own.


I am having her cremated, and her ashes will travel with us on this journey. All of her belongings and food will be distributed among our friends and a local shelter. I had truly hoped she'd get to travel with us for a few years and meet all kinds of new people, friends, and get to smell a TON of wonderful puppy scents, but that was not to be. It was difficult to write the letter to my son and break the news to him. But I told him about the entire ordeal and was very honest with him. He wrote back and thanked me for my honesty. We have decided that it was meant to be that we trek across this beautiful country without a pet, besides my daughter's beta fish and snail. I can't ever remember what she named them all, but I call them Berta, Ernie, and Gary. hehehe

So now we're officially off and begun our adventure as full-time RVers! Yay! I am slowly getting things organized in Gertrude and put neatly away where they are hidden from visiting eyes. *grin* We look forward to the many friends we will meet along our travels. Now I'm off to figure out where else I can stash some more shoes. hehe

Monday, April 20, 2015

Decisions, decisions, decisions.....



The process of paring down you sticks & bricks possessions is incredibly daunting! I had hoped to have the house on the market by now. But there is still a lot to finish. My issue right now is one of duality.  Many items in our home need to be sorted. My husband's idea is that it all should be gone. (maybe not ALL, but really close to it) My problem being that I feel overwhelmed being the one that is doing all the sorting, but no one else really seems to be able to accomplish the task either.




What do I really want to do? Pack up Gertrude and move in. If we can't move it in there to live, then it goes. Trying to plan living quarters in one place, while living in another is one of the toughest things I've done to date (when it comes to packing/moving). I'm all on board to downsize and live a more minimalist life. In the past, my little family has lived in 6 different places, two of those being apartments. A new friend on FB that has recently started her RV journey, stated that it is far more difficult to move into an RV from a house and from a house to a house. Man was she right!! When you move into an RV, everything must be deemed useful. There is very little room for decorative items or nick knacks. And then there are papers. What is an important paper? What should be filed? If I'm keeping a printer, what of those papers do I keep?



I've spent so many years working with and helping out the JROTC unit at the high school, that many things I have have been allocated to that purpose. So what will I use? This is the million donation question!! Ugh! I had a medium sized box (like 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft) FILLED with paints...fabric paints, acrylic paints, glitter paint, etc.... I have put all of it into a donation box. This was a bigger step than you realize. I delight in making shirts and decorating things with paint. But this is something I have resigned myself to not need. So do I also ditch the t-shirt transfer papers? Or might I use those in supporting my children's future endeavors? Has the day of the CD or DVD passed us by? I have a whole file filled with CD/DVD adhesive labels...Ugh! How long do you keep Tax records if you've been doing your taxes online for quite some time? Do you keep old bills when many of these same statements can be easily retrieved online, as well?


I believe all of this decision making has started to play fast and loose with my sleeping patterns. More mornings than not, I awaken around 3-4:40 am unable to quiet myself long enough to drift back off to dreamland. Hopefully I am able to get enough work done during the days that these early morning hours can be spent doing a little relaxing. We just got a memory foam mattress for the motorhome, maybe I'll be able to sleep better on there. I am ever hopeful that I will sleep better once moved in, for sure!