Saturday, May 25, 2019

Downsizing

When we started this lifestyle of living fulltime in an RV, we went from a 1900 square foot house to an RV that was around 300 square feet. We really had to get rid of mostly everything to be able to live inside of that tiny space. But we did it and have lived in that fifthwheel for almost 5 years.

Now we have a new challenge ahead of us. Going from 300 square feet to around 80 square feet. That is approximately the square footage of our Hobbit House that we are taking to Disney via Alaska. Now those that remember, we did take the Hobbit House to Colorado for a month last year to see how well we could live in it in preparation for our Disney/Alaska trip. It was doable for a month. This will test us because this Disney/Alaska trip will be at least 3 months. Now if that goes well we plan on continuing to live in the Hobbit House all winter somewhere in Arizona. That would mean at least a 10-11 months inside the Hobbit House. So this is downsizing to the extreme.
This is our dining room with the bathroom just to the right.
Lisa found time to remodel our kitchen. She added that backsplash.
This is our bedroom. Lisa is worried about creepers. I don't know why.

We are up to the challenge and are a little giddy at the prospects of what lie ahead. In a matter of just a few days we will be on our way to one of the biggest adventures of our lives. I am not talking about an adventure like me trying to fit into a pair of skinny jeans either.

This trip will be amazing and to be honest a little scary. Scary of the unknown and the amount of miles we will be putting on Gandalf. We are over 13 thousand on him in a matter of months. Like the saying goes though, "Suck it up buttercup!"

"Gladys! Get the hose, that creepy guy is looking in our window again!"

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Why Robin, Why?

Old man winter is really having a tough time letting go this year. As we sat in the Florida warmth and sunshine this last winter watching the weather up north, we felt sorry for what our kids, mother-in-law and friends had to endure. It was really a long, cold and snowy winter.

Now we sit in the middle of May and the average high temps should be in the 70's. But they are not, they are in the 40's. So we sit in our fifthwheel looking out the window dreaming of warmer weather. As I look out I notice a robin. I have seen it before. Actually I have noticed it for days around our rig. Always carrying dry grass in its beak.

I first noticed it days ago when we had a rental car when our truck was getting fixed. It would hop under the car with the grass and then leave. Only to come back later with more. I said to Lisa that robin was building a nest on the underside of that car. Even if we would drive away for awhile, when we would come back, it would return and start building the nest again.

I then looked under the corner of the fifthwheel and noticed some grass hanging out the bottom of that. It was trying to build a nest there also when the car was gone.
Then we got the truck back from the body shop and I was watching that dang robin go underneath the truck also with a beak full of grass. Lisa went and found a nest that it was building on the leaf spring.

So everyday we do walk arounds to find and remove any nests that they are building. They are very determined to find someplace dry for their nests. I found the start of another nest in our kingpin.
Some might think it cruel to pull down the nests everyday. It's not. The cruel part would be to let them build the nest and lay their eggs in it. Then we would have to leave with the fifthwheel and a nest full of eggs. 

So the nest battle will go on until they find a new location or until we put the fifthwheel into storage, which is happening tomorrow.

"Gladys! Are there bears at Disney?"

Saturday, May 18, 2019

It's All coming Together

We are busy getting all of our ducks in a row for the giant Disney trip. The trip that will challenge us and push our boundaries. The trip that will separate the boys from the girls.

All of our medical appointments are coming to an end. We are happy to say that Lisa is in good health. Me on the other hand. Well that is another story for another time. The cats have had their appointments and they have their paperwork for the great journey that lies ahead.

Gandalf has been busy getting ready also. Oil change and a recall finished. Camper tie downs.
I look like Mini Me in this picture.
Wiring harness installed. Lance campers have a special plug that is unique to them.
Paint chips fixed. It looks brand new again.
We also got the last coat of wax on the fifthwheel so that will be ready to put into storage next week. We will get our pickup camper out of storage one day and then take a couple of days to swap them out and then we will be ready to go.

I needed a couple extra pair of jeans for the trip. Who knows what the weather will be like on the way to Disney. So we headed to the big city of Fargo to go to Old Navy. I grab a couple of pairs of jeans and head to the dressing rooms. I don't know if this has happened to other people but it happened to me. I take my pants off and start to try on the new ones. One leg goes in fine. No problem there. I stand on one leg and start to put the other leg into the other leg hole and my foot gets stuck on something. It won't go in and it won't come out. I start to panic. I start to hop around to maintain my balance.

I'm thinking to myself, "What the H*ll?" Thoughts are going through my mind. Thoughts like this. What if I fall on the concrete floor and break a hip? I am not signed up with Life Alert yet. "Help! I've fallen and can't get up!" Worse yet, what if I fall against the door and it opens and then I hit the concrete floor in front of a bunch of women in my underpants? Crisis averted, my brain finally tells my hand to let go of the pants, so I did. 

Lesson learned. I now sit down on the bench to put my pants on.

Is that what they call growing old with dignity? Anyways, I got 2 new pair of jeans and walked out of there with my head held high because no one knows about "The Incident" until now. I only share it with you as a learning experience to others that are balanced challenged.

"Gladys! Are you ready for the Disney trip? There's only 2 weeks left till we leave."

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Re-Inventing the Wheel

We have arrived at our super secret undisclosed location. The weather is not co-operating for us however. It is cool most days without sun and lots of rain still. This summer is about a month behind. We are in May and it feels like April here.

We are only here a month this summer which is so unlike us. We have our big Disney adventure taking place this summer so while we are here, there are a ton of things to get done in a short amount of time. Things like working on our land project when we can. Medical and dental appointments for us and the cats. Gandalf is having several appointments also. Routine service work, fixing the dings caused by a runaway screen room and also getting fitted for pickup camper tie downs. We also want to spend enough time with friends and family while we are here also. Grandbaby one turned 1 year old while we were gone so we have catching up to do with him. It only gives us a month to spoil him.
Watching Little Baby Bum, Virgo's favorite.

As we listen to the pitter patter of rain drops on our camper, our minds start to think about our Disney trip, The logistics involved of swapping out campers. The amount of time we will spend in a pickup camper. The sights we will see along the way. Where will we be next winter? It's a wonder we get any sleep at all with so much going through our minds. (I'm speaking for Lisa only. I sleep like a baby.)

We lived in our pickup camper for a month last year when we took it to Colorado. It was fun and we liked it alot. So our Disney trip will test those boundaries because that trip will last at least 3 months. Now the "what ifs" come into play. What if we can tolerate living in the pickup camper for those 3 months? What if we decided to take the pickup camper for our winter destinations? What if we could bring our ATV's with us? What if we can't stay in the pickup camper for that length of time?

There is so much to work through at the moment. This will be a big year for us travelwise. Gandalf already has over twelve thousand miles on him. And we just bought him in December.

"Glady's, don't forget to pack the bear spray! I don't want those Pirates of the Caribbean sneaking up on us."

Friday, April 12, 2019

Northward Bound

Well, it was inevitable. I turned 55! Not by my choosing. But it happened and I must move on with my life. It just means one year closer to getting that scooter I have always been wanting.
This is the one I have had my eye on now. It has knobby tires for off roading or hiking. It goes about 30 mph so I can keep up with Lisa while she death marches.  You can even get a little trailer for it to haul your beer, cats or groceries. In that order. Moose would be in the basket, beer in the trailer and Lisa would have to carry the groceries. If you Google handicap scooters, hit images, you would be amazed at the different types of scooters out there. They are just not for old people anymore.

My birthday was pretty quiet. Just Lisa, the cats and I. I got a new electric razor because my old one sucked. Also the original Star Wars movies to complete my set. Now I can have a Star Wars marathon and get my geek on as I watch it with my lightsaber in hand (keep your minds out of the gutter). Lisa took me out to a BBQ place for dinner in Waynesville,NC. 
Fat Buddies Ribs and BBQ. With a name like that it has to be great. I like the motto also. "So good it will make you squeal." We decided to order the"Pig Out Platter for Two". I love the names.
One happy birthday boy. There was half a chicken. A full rack of ribs. 1/4 lb of brisket and a 1/4 lb of pulled pork. Double order of baked beans, french fries, garlic toast and coleslaw. All for 32 bucks. What a deal.
As hard as we tried, we could not finish it. They were right. We were squealing at the end. Then we wobbled home for some key lime pie for desert.

We left Waynesville, NC and traveled just a short distance to an undisclosed location in Tennessee. Our friends Bob and Deb, who we met at Amazon a few years ago own some land with RV hookups! So at the last minute we called them up and invited ourselves to stay with them. What are friends for, right? It was such a short notice that they didn't have time to pack up and leave. They reluctantly disclosed their location to us and we found it and pulled in. 

They have a nice setup and it is for sale if anyone is interested in some property near Gatlinburg. I think it is for sale because we know where it is now.
You have a spot to park your camper in that is covered and private. That little building next to it is a outdoor kitchen and laundry room. There is also a loft with a bed in there for company.
Side view of the outdoor kitchen.
Then you have a carport with a garage in it. We are parked in one of the RV sites with full hookups.
The third RV site is next to us. Again with full hookups. There is a fourth RV site but you have to park in the back in the grass near the outdoor kitchen. Full hookups with that one also.
This is a side view of the carport/garage. Bob built in a 1 1/2 bath inside there also for company. A nice fire pit centrally located.
You have a covered pavilion for gatherings and entertaining.
And also a shed to store your lawn mower and other things. It is set up really nice and they have done a lot of improvements to it since they have bought it. Everything can easily be drained and winterized when you are not there. It gave us ideas of what we might want to do on our property in Minnesota.

We parked and quickly got set up. We sat around and talked, then they made us a great dinner and we talked some more. Then a fire and more talking. It was a fun evening. We had to leave early the next morning. 9 AM is early for us, so we called it a night. Next morning we said our goodbyes and hit the road. I am really bad at not getting group pictures and will have to get better at that. Here's a close facsimile of what we looked like. They may also want to stay anonymous. I shall have to give them assumed names like Gertrude Puddlejumper and Dirk WishIhadaDodge.
Our next destination was going to be somewhere in Indiana. It was a longer travel day than we were used to because as of late our days were really short. We decided to stop here for a couple of days to let a nasty spring storm roll on by. In Minnesota they were talking about snow in feet. But down here it was going to be rain and wind. Lots of wind.
This is why we don't want to travel when there are wind advisories. The truck and camper are over 55 feet long and very tall. We hardly ever realize how big the rig is until you see them together. So we will just hunker down here for a day or two.

"Gladys, get my galoshes, it's wet outside!"

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pisgah!

That's right! I said Pisgah! Pronounced Piss-gah. More about that later though.

We left Myrtle Beach and started heading Northwest towards our final destination of Minnesota. We saw a national park called Congaree and wanted to go check that out. So we found a state park fairly close and booked a site there.

Now if you go online and look at the photos of the place you would think that it is a beautiful place to stay. We did. When we got there we thought "Holy hell, what is this?" The roads are narrow and in terrible shape. It was two lane but with our truck and camper we took  up both lanes. Sadly, once you turn in you are committed to go all of the way in to either the campground or park office. We drove about 3 miles back in and found the turn off to the campground. Unbelievably that road was even narrower. Still paved but washed out in many areas. This is not looking good.

Up the hill we drove to the campground. The road splits at the top. One way to go to an overlook and the other to go to the campground. It is no longer paved but sand and gravel now. Again washed out in many areas. Lisa actually got out and walked it to see if we could make it which we would have had to,  I was not backing down a winding one lane road to get out of there. We got in there and found our site and unhooked.
Once in it was fine. So we went down to the office to check in. I am glad that we never met any oncoming traffic. Have I mentioned how bad the roads where? We were supposed to stay 2 nights but the rains were coming so we did not want to stay with those roads the way they were. So we left after one night and moved onto Asheville, NC. We decided that that state park was the state park South Carolina forgot they had. It needs renovation badly. So do not take a big rig to that park at all.

Our next stay was at Bear Creek RV Park in Asheville, NC. We needed full hookups for laundry and this worked out just fine. For anyone that doesn't like road noise, do not stay here. It is sandwiched between I-26 and I-40.
This is our site. 5A. That picnic table on that concrete slab is another site. Now I will show you the park map so you can see where we are in relation to the rest of the campground.
I-40 runs along that one side of it. They don't show I-26. There is a road that circles in front of the campground. That's where the pull throughs are at. You pull through and then park next to that road where people are going about 50 around that bend. We are in 5A. Now I will show you a closer view of those sites.
Whoever designed this was on drugs. Each pull through has a mini site attached to it. Literally side by side without any space between them. If it was rented we would not get our awning out. And why is 4B diagonal into the front of our site? It is what it is I guess.

We started to explore this area. It is very pretty here in the Appalachian Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through Asheville. Our first day was cloudy. We read about a waterfall near Brevard, NC not far away so up into the mountains we went.
It is early spring here and there aren't many leaves on the trees yet.
We found the waterfall and it was inside of the Pisgah National Forest. I have never heard of this forest before now but it sure is beautiful here. We stopped at  the visitor center and learned about the park and about a few hikes. Pisgah is Hebrew, meaning summit. There is Mount Pisgah here also. 
The waterfall is called Looking Glass Falls. They also have what they call Slide Rock here. The water runs over a slick rock where you can slide down it when its warmer.
No one was sliding that day. To get back we had to go back over the mountains. Our return trip was a little harrowing because the clouds had rolled in at the top. Unbeknownst to us however.


There were spots up there that was zero visibility. All we could do was follow the yellow line. Once down we cleaned out our shorts and went home for the day. We have learned on this trip that it is not a good idea to be up on the Parkway when there is low cloud cover. Also, driving these mountainous roads  it would be nice to have something smaller than a one ton truck. Dorks on parade.

Our next couple of days found us back up in the mountains again. This time it was sunnier. 


The Blue Ridge Parkway is just a road that goes across the mountain tops. It is about 450 miles long and the speed limit is only 45 mph. There are nothing but views up there to look at. No restaurants or stores or anything. So if you are driving it you have to turn off and go down to find a town. Don't bring your RV's up there either. Most roads are going to be narrow with switchbacks, steep inclines and tunnels. 

Apparently in this area where we are at there are over 200 waterfalls. I heard of one and just had to see it.
I was intrigued by the name. I even brought cash.
We stopped in Dupont State Forest where there are many waterfalls. I learned that parts of one of my favorite movies was filmed here. The Last of the Mohicans.

These are images from the movie I got online. The waterfalls are the Triple Falls area.
This is Triple Falls the day we were there. Then we hiked to High Falls.
There is a covered bridge that crosses this waterfall. We did get some hiking in here. We haven't hiked in quite awhile.
Here I am enjoying one of the many comfortable benches on the trail as Lisa just keeps walking on by. I keep reminding her that they put those benches there for a reason. It would be a waste of taxpayer money not to use them.
Here I am in my triumphant pose. "HA! You didn't kill me today!"

The thing that we like about this area is that there are so many things to see and do. We really like this area a lot. We need to come back and stay a month or so next time. After hiking the waterfalls we were hungry and stopped at the Pisgah Fish Camp restaurant in Brevard. It was very good and the server told us about Sierra Nevada Brewery not far from there. I don't really like Sierra Nevada beer but we decided to stop by and check it out. I am glad we did.
The brewery is fairly large and on weekends they have bands that play out back for free. We walked in and were amazed. They have brewery tours of course. Some free and some you have to pay for. There's a gift shop, restaurant, bars and out back they have outdoor games, seating areas and a stage for music.
It was pretty cool too just sit there and watch. We had to get some drinks and we watched from the balcony for awhile.
Lisa was hammering back a few. They also let you walk around some of the area of the brewery in a self guided tour. 

The factory part made us think of Amazon with all of the conveyors.

Our time here in Asheville or as I affectionately call it, Assville has come to an end.

"Gladys, let's get going! The Posse is coming!"

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Doing Myrtle

Across this great country of ours, there are scattered meccas we like to call tourist traps. Such as Las Vegas and Orlando. However there are others that we have been too also. The Wisconsin Dells, the Black Hills of SD, Niagara Falls NY, Gatlinburg TN, Branson MO and now Myrtle Beach SC. They are fun in moderation but you soon discover that they have so many ways of separating you from your money. And if you bring kids, just hand it over.
Attractions like Ripley's Believe It Or Not, haunted mazes and go cart tracks. How many miniature golf courses can one town have. Here they call them adventure golf, and there are maybe 50 of them here. Beach stores on every corner selling the same stuff everyone else has. Buffets everywhere which I will talk more about later.

We are staying at the Myrtle Beach State Park. The weather has been cool and windy here for our whole visit but that is not going to stop us from exploring the area. The state park is very nice and it sits in the middle of two tourist districts. It is like a green space between beach hotels on each side. We can walk to the beach from the campground which is nice.


This is the beach at the state park. Pretty desolate but beautiful. Like I said the weather is cool and the wind coming off of the ocean is keeping people off of the beach. Also, this park is below the landing path of the airport. I love planes so the noise doesn't bother me. However, some people might not like it. Depending on the wind direction, planes are either landing or taking off over the park.


Our first full day at Myrtle Beach was going to keep us busy. We wanted to do everything because the rains were going to start and it looked like our second day would be a washout. There's not a lot of free stuff to do here because they want your money. We don't want to give them our money so as far as sight seeing goes, it was going to be a short day.

We started off with a death march on the beach. It's not so bad if you have great scenery to look at. A lady went jogging by and she would stop every so often and pick up some garbage that she saw and stuff it in a bag. That inspired me to do the same. I found a ziplock bag on the beach and went to work.

These beaches are pretty clean and they are not littered with a lot of trash. But you can always find something. As I was getting trash, Gladys was adding to her shell collection which weighs about 100 pounds by now. That's just the shells we got at Myrtle Beach.
She must be going to decorate our rig with stuff like this.
Whatever she decides is fine. As long as it keeps her busy and distracted from death marching and lets me play video games. After that we got ready to go down to the boardwalk.

We walked and checked out some of the shops. I can't imagine this place when it is warm out. This is still the off season. We went into one shop called the Gay Dolphin, if you go in there you would be amazed at that place. Three floors packed full of everything you could imagine with touristy stuff.


I wanted this bronze mermaid but Gladys said "NO". Dang! I never get what I want. We walked up and down the streets working up an appetite. We wanted to be really hungry for our dinner out.

Our dinner was going to be out at Captain Benjamin's Original Calabash Buffet. 170 different options with many being seafood. It was all-you-can-eat. Challenge accepted. How much could we eat? We will find out. There are a lot of calabash buffets. We didn't know what that meant. Calabash is just lightly breaded and fried foods southern style. There was so much seafood there and we tried as much as we could. I have found a new love for scallops and crab legs. Trip after trip we went.

"Gladys, I am stuffed. Let's go home so I can take my pants off. Ugh."

"Fine. Get up off of the floor for goodness sakes!"

We left happy and satisfied. It was a little spendy but worth doing once in awhile. Laying on the couch was not in the plans for me. Gladys wanted more shells. I said fine but I am bringing my metal detector. We have to recoup some of that money we just spent, so back to the beach we went. Gladys went shelling and I went treasure hunting.
Back and forth I went with not much luck, maybe because the tourists are not here yet. I walked down to were the hotels start and instantly my luck changed. All I found at the state park beach was a pair of reading glasses and a tent stake. 
But where the hotels start I started finding cold, hard, cash. Count it. That is 61 cents. Our dinner just cost us 61 cents less. Cha-ching baby! As the sun was setting it made the waves really white.
All of these photos are with my cell phone so the crispness just isn't there. Maybe if the rain stops we will get out on the beach one more time.

Our grandbaby just turned one. I can't believe it has been a year and at how fast he is growing up.
We video chat with him often and that helps Gladys fight the urge to drive north too soon. We will celebrate with him in less than a month so that will work.

"Gladys, hitch up the horses, let's get out of here!"