Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 -- The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Happy New Year to all who might be reading this post!

Well, this year has been a real hum-dinger, hasn't it? In spite of everything on the negative side of things, we have a lot to be thankful for....but more on that later. First of all, let's address "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" shall we?

In reverse order we have "The Ugly". Well, for us that has to be our last 3 weeks of horrible weather. It started with some light rain and very cold temperatures. OK, we're seasoned Washingtonians and we can take it. Then the snow began falling a couple of weeks ago and it keep on falling and falling and falling. Just like the Energizer Bunny, it never seemed to quit. You can read about our weather problems in the previous postings. I'll attempt to attach a photo to this posting. (Keep your fingers crossed) The weather is getting warmer now and the rain has begun falling and it is slowly melting the snow. The motorhome is still snowed in at our site though.

There are a few things that can be named "The Bad" that fell on us or our family during 2008. The worst was having our son, Dennis, lose his job the week before Thanksgiving. He had a middle management job with his company and the national recession cut that job out from under him. His company began suffering and they laid off several employees in the management positions. He's been sending out applications, at least 3 a week, so I'm very optimistic he will find something eventually. However, due to his job situation he will not be able to participate in our family vacation this June at Disney World. Certainly the economy was another "Bad" thing for us along with everyone else. It will take a while before our investments gain the ground they lost, so in the meanwhile we watch our budget more closely.

In spite of "The Bad & The Ugly"...."The Good" was really good and we can be thankful for every blessing! In spite of the rotten housing market, we were able to get our home sold in only 3 months, and for a fair price to boot. Wow! Ours was 1 of only 2 that sold in our 55+ park in 2008. There are still over 10 homes for sale in that park today. In spite of the rotten economy, we were able to take an RV trip to Pismo Beach for 2 months! We enjoyed that trip and the total relaxation it provided. In spite of the fact that they often wear us out, we are blessed with 2 wonderful granddaughters that love to spend time with us at every opportunity. They love to have sleep overs with Grandma and Papa and look forward to little RV trips with us, too.

Most important of all, Bruce and I are in pretty good shape:

* We enjoy good health

* We can put food on our table each day

* We have a roof over our head

* We have the love of a family

* We can afford private health insurance (although costly)

* We have a church we feel welcomed in and we have FAITH

It really never gets any better than that! Everything else is gravy. We are looking forward to the upcoming New Year and the exciting travels we have planned. My postings on our Fulltime Journey haven't dealt with much "journeying" the past couple of months. We are still considered fulltime RVer's even if we park it for a while. I'll keep you up to speed on how things continue with this RV life as we begin the 2009 countdown to March 14th....our target date for leaving on the next big Full Time Adventure.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Wonderland??? This winter really stinks!

We've had enough snow to last us a lifetime. This is the most snow we have had at one time here in Tumwater/Olympia area since we moved here in 1994. In years past we've gotten...oh, maybe 3 to 4 inches at one time and then it usually melted away in a day or two. This time there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. We are expected to have snow most all day long tomorrow (Sunday). Due to this uncommon amount of snow, we were able to experience all sorts of new problems.

In my last posting I wrote about how we were beginning to have a serious shortage of propane. We had planned to drive the RV out and get our tank refilled last week when the snow melted a bit. Well, it hasn't melted at all and there is no way we can get the motorhome out of here until it does. Bruce looked through the phone book for places that provide large propane tanks and bring them to your site. Not much luck there. The best deal we could find was for a 120 gallon tank. Then they would charge $198.00 to bring it out, $2.89 per gallon for propane, and then another $90.00 when we wanted the tank picked up and removed. Plus...they only had a 1-yr. lease deal. If we wanted it picked up sooner than the 1-year they would charge another $55.00. But the real kicker was that they couldn't get to us for another 3 weeks. By that time the snow will be melted and we can drive out and get the propane. Time for PLAN B: We called around to RV parts suppliers in town to see about getting an adapter system to connect our fixed propane tank out to an auxiliary tank. Nobody here had anything to offer. Sooooo......we got into the car and drove 25 miles south to Chehalis on the snowy-icy roads to Uhlmann's RV dealership. They were very helpful. They didn't have exactly what we needed so they fixed us up with a custom fitting for our motorhome. Great! We drove back up to Tumwater and got our son-in-laws BBQ propane tank to use.

Bruce had to climb up under the large slideout section on the motorhome and attempt to connect the adaptor kit to the propane tank. That was not an easy task as it is a very tight space under there. While he worked on that job, I picked the icicles off of the motorhome exterior. There were lots of them. After a lengthy process (about 2 hours) he finally managed to get everything connected and in working order. He tested the new fittings out for leaks by using a Mr. Bubble Bath solution. No leaks! The auxiliary tank is only 5 gallons but it was "free" to use. We can just put it into the car and drive to the gas station down the road to refill it as needed. So, no more fear about running the gas heater to keep us warm. We are still being conservative with that and relying on the electric space heater as much as possible.

Last night before going to bed we closed up the valves on the grey water tanks to collect water in order to empty our black tank today. We like to flush the sewer hose with the grey water after emptying our black water tank each time. Well, during the night it just got colder and colder and when we woke up it was only 14 degrees outside. We had to babysit for a few hours this morning so we did that before emptying our holding tanks.

After lunch we went out to take care of our holding tanks. Fortunately, we got the black tank valve opened and all of that came out and emptied as usual. Great. Then Bruce tried to open the 2 grey tank valves and they wouldn't budge. At that time he noticied that the floor of that bin (where all holding tank controls are housed) was layered with a sheet of solid ice. Apparently during the night our fresh water hose connector leaked out by a drip..drip..drip. Most likely the extreme cold weather caused something to run amuck. The water accumulated and froze up like a little ice pond in there. That resulted in the 2 grey tank valves to freeze up tight.

I went into the RV and got him some warm water to pour over the valve handles to try and thaw them out a bit. No dice. Then he poured that water over our new ice pond and he began chipping that out bit by bit. All the while it is snowing like a blizzard on us out there. Finally we just gave up on that little task for today. Tomorrow is supposed to warm up to 29 degrees!!! Maybe we can get those valves opened freely then. In the meantime, we'll go over to our daughter's house in the morning to shower since our grey tank is almost full.

Our dog, Annie, enjoys the snow. Yippee. We have to take her out several times each day to do her business and she just loves to play in the snow. Then we bring her back in and we have to dry her off as best we can. She gets little clumps of snow stuck in the fur on her legs and they just have to melt out....all over the floors. Ahhhhh..the joys of loving a dog!

I know it has to get better eventually. Although, the coming week isn't looking too good and the cold temperatures are set to continue past Christmas day. At least our propane issues are under control. I'm also pleased to report that our new dehumidifier is working like a champ! It sounds a bit like a hurricane blowing through the motorhome when it is set on high but the results are better than we could have hoped for.

I admit I've been a bit stressed out over some of these issues (well, a lot stressed out actually), but things will work out. Like Bruce said, "nothing has happened that can't be or hasn't already been fixed." I'll try to keep that in mind this next week when we face the possibility of a lot more snow, ice and cold temperatures.

Stay tuned.........

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Love a Nice Waterfall.....

Yes, I've always enjoyed viewing a beautiful waterfall. Outdoors that is, and not running down the walls of the motorhome. We figured we would have some condensation to deal with while being in Washington during the winter months. What we didn't realize was exactly how much condensation we would be dealing with. We soon noticied some water (heavy dew) accumulating in the upper storage bins throughout the RV at the back wall/ceiling joints. So, we now live with the doors of all of our storage bins open. Lovely! Then I began to notice that any of the corners in the exterior walls were gathering too much moisture. In fact, in one corner behind the easy chair there were creepy-crawly things growing in that crevice as well. Eeewwww! I got out the bleach/water solution and quickly set out to kill those critters.

Next I sent off an e-mail to another fulltimer we know to ask how they've been dealing with this wonderful winter weather. They are currently staying north of us near Seattle. Jan called us on the phone to say that at first they thought their motorhome roof was leaking because they had so much moisture gathering. They quickly realized it was not and set to work, like we did, to try and deal with the situation. They already had a small dehumidifier and put it up on their dashboard and turned it on. She said it helped a little bit. We went to the local True Value Hardward to check out that type of dehumidifier. It had a 8 oz. capacity and was priced at $49.99. Too small we thought to do an adequate job. So, we checked the local Home Depot and Lowe's but they had nothing in stock. Bruce found one online through Lowe's. It has a 25 pint capacity and cost $154.99. Shipping was FREE. It arrived yesterday and we put it to work immediately. We decided to just go for the big guns! I'm still running around the motorhome a few times a day wiping down the corners to keep them dry and we still leave the upper storage bin doors open to allow for more air circulation. We are hoping that within a few days, the humidity level and moisture will be more under control and the waterfalls will cease.

Of course, this problem was further exacerbated by the fact that we are having a freakishly cold winter this year. They say this is the worst cold Western Washington has seen in almost 20 years. This morning it was 15 degrees outside. This extreme cold means that we must run the propane heating system more than we'd like and it adds to the cause of the condensation issue. With the temperatures being so cold outdoors and the need to keep us warm indoors...therein lies the problem. We'll get through it I'm sure and we only have 3 more months before we can head out to warmer areas!

In future years we will be leaving Washington during January and February and head to a warmer and drier climate. This year, however, we have opted to stay here for the benefit of our 2 granddaughters. We enjoy being with them so much.

Everything has been a learning experience with this winter RV living. We found out that our electric heat pump system works great as long as it doesn't get below freezing outdoors. Fortunately, we have the propane system too and that works just fine. The only problem with that is it really sucks up the propane quickly and we'll need to go out and refill soon. In a lot of areas you can order a propane fill from a local supplier and the truck will come right to your door and refill for you. Not here. Some folks here in our park have supplemental propane tanks attached to help out. Lucky us....our propane tank is way underneath the slideout section and very difficult to get to in order to attach such a supplemental tank. Like Bruce said, if we have to drive out to get our tank refilled it will give the diesel engine a chance to run. So that is the positive slant on that issue. OK....I'm grasping with me !!!!

Still, in spite of all the difficulties I wouldn't trade this moving domecile for a "fixed house" again. We still find enjoyment in all of this lifestyle. We are looking forward to mid-March, though, when we get to be "on the road again".