4 Days and a Wakeup! Exciting!

4 Days and a Wakeup! Exciting!

There is just something exciting about the shortening days before starting another adventure!

Final preparations making ready for being on the road again, completing all the projects to which you have committed, to making those last Amazon orders so you know you will get them in time, all add to fill those few quickly lessening remaining days until departure.

In addition to all that, Shelly is off to Memphis TN, (without me!) to attend a Assistance Dog training conference with the folks she has been helping at Atlas Service Dogs. She is off to the airport in Joplin Mo. Wednesday and back on Saturday. We leave Sunday morning!

Our 4 months here at Grand Lake Sailing Club in Grove OK have been super nice.  We have enjoyed this so much, we are actually seriously considering coming back next year!

Although we did not travel and explore as we would have liked – we did get a quick trip to Little Rock Ar to have dinner with Ian when the Air Force evacuated out of Michael’s way.

 

After the surgery on my knee started healing this week we took a trip to Natural Falls to hike 3 miles or so in the cool October weather. Goose loved it!

Last week we had a nice strong thunderstorm with 70+ mph winds that took down an old oak tree, narrowly missing 4 sailboats up on the hill on trailers!

We have become birdwatchers as Shelly has feeders and hummingbird feeders right outside our dining table window. It has been fun and interesting to watch and learn the different birds. My favorites were the yellow finches, tanagers, and the little woodpeckers. We also had a running battle with squirrels. Shelly would wait until they were close and then blast them with a hose hanging on the window. The squirrels learned to listen for the faintest noise of the screen sliding open as Shelly slowly reached for the hose nozzle! This proved to be quite entertaining and kept our neighborhood squirrels properly bathed! 

 

In the meantime – there are two projects to be done.  The FEW, a nonprofit group we help when we can, has been donated a 37′ Silverton motor yacht in Galveston Bay in Houston. We are headed south to see what is needed to get that boat operating and what is best for the organization.

The loose plans from Texas are a leisurely seafood engorging trip across the gulf coast back to Stuart Fl to see about getting a 58′ Hatteras motor yacht in the water after being up on the hard for 6 years.

Somewhere in there will be Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.

So look for more posts as we start new adventures!

 

 

Here We Go Again. But Where?

Here We Go Again. But Where?

Oklahoma is much different than I had thought it would be. (This happens all the time to me!)  Early October and it is still beautiful weather – warm sunny, breezy days and cool nights for sleeping – but not cold.

Since mid-July we have lived in a beautiful setting, up on a hill, surrounded by huge old oak trees, with tons of wildlife around us. We overlook the lake and the marina which is down the hill a few hundred yards. There is a large herd of deer that drive Goose nuts, the rabbit under the shed right next to us, and lots of little critters and birds.

Sometimes, on the weekends, there will be a few people on their boats but for the most part we get paid to sit here and make sure unused boats do not sink at the dock!

Shelly volunteered to help train some puppies at the local shelter and had a ball doing it. Thankfully she didn’t bring any home!

It is time to go. Our feet are awfully itchy to be moving! We have recruited another couple to take our place for the winter and early spring and left the door open to coming back if it all works out.

As usual we have been busy. There were several sailboats requiring attention, including an engine rebuild, lots of canvas work for Shelly as well as projects around the club grounds. We have met some awfully nice people and made new friends!

More importantly, and the main reason we came here, was the work done on the RV. We knew this site had a really nice steel cover that allowed me to do some major repairs.

The bedroom slideout had to removed completely out of the RV by disassembling the bed and all interior trim work, as well as the exterior trim and sealing pieces. Once the slideout was supported by legs, we were able to remove the old floor and install a new one.

The new floor was built prior to the removal of the slide-out and I was really hoping it would fit!


We were able to replace the old floor in a day, then replace carpet, bed, and interior trim so we could use the bed that night. The exterior trim had to be cleaned of all caulking and rusted screws and replaced.

Next was the job of replacing the two 4×6 pieces of painted steel skirt around the hitch that got bent when someone dropped the RV on the truck back in Atlanta. ;-). This one was worrying me until a call to Newmar notified us that not only did they have the two parts in stock but they would ship them to us free for only $140! I was floored.  When they arrived I had the old pieces off and had sanded, cleaned and re-insulated in the framework and was ready for installation.

It seemed easy enough to just use the old pieces as a template and cut the same pattern. Nope. The first piece was too short by almost 4 inches. Bummer. Luckily Newmar had another piece!  That job, though tedious, turned out to really look great!

Next up was a project I had been mulling over for a year. The basement doors on the outside were huge, heavy, vertically hung from the top with no support once they were opened over your head! There was a door on each side of the rv that allows access to the large storage space under the forward bedroom. These things were just wrong but I was not sure about how to fix them.

I finally just bit the bullet, removed them, sawed them in half and hung them horizontally. With some creative use of aluminum channel and lots of trials I have to admit to being a very proud papa of these doors.

Of course,  the sawing kinda  messed up the paint so I had to learn about acrylic paints and how to spray a metallic automotive paint with a compressor. It turned out pretty nice according to my biggest supporter! (After a few trials and lots of sanding!)

Next we tackled the old carpet inside. Once we ripped it out and removed all the layers of 10 years of dirt and grime underneath, a new hardwood replica (teak!) vinyl floor really spiffed up the living area. Shelly is happy!

Last week, knowing we are about to hit the road again, we invested in 6 really good tires for the truck and an oil change and we are good to go!

Tomorrow we head to Fayetteville Arkansas VA hospital for an outpatient meniscus surgery to clean up torn ligaments from skiing in Red River last year. Surgery probably means no skiing this year but we will see!

The loose plan is to head south into Texas and then east along the Gulf Coast. We might go back to Stuart Fl to put that Hatteras we worked on last spring in the water.  Christmas will probably be in Asheville NC.

Between here and there, who knows?   If we come back to Oklahoma, it will not be until March at least so we have lots of time to explore.

Any ideas?

 

 

Summering on Grand Lake in Oklahoma!

Summering on Grand Lake in Oklahoma!

On a gorgeous, clear, warm morning in July, I look out over the Tennessee River from the Mississippi side and have to wonder: If you catch a fish from a boat on the Mississippi side of the river and you pull it across to the Tennessee side of the river – which state fishing license is required? I struggle with these thoughts for a bit before pushing it off for another day to decide.

And so goes another day out on the road!

Iuka, Mississippi has a fabulous state park that we call home for a day. Then we spend 15 minutes getting ready, (stow chairs and bamboo mat, roll up the awning and bring in the slides, lock the cabinets, put in our custom plexiglass panels in the fridge and pantry, and secure all loose items, back up the truck to the fifth wheel and lock it in, and finally disconnect and stow the power and water) to meander country back roads for an hour or three to the next park, winery, farm or wherever it is we might be going.

Between the ski slopes of Red River, New Mexico and Hobe Sound, Florida where we helped a friend remodel a 58’ Hatteras motor yacht we enjoyed a trip back through New Mexico (cool dinosaur tracks), Oklahoma (5 hours stuck in the mud), wineries in Oklahoma and Nashville with former world class musician owners, and parks flooded by spring rains where we the only campers. Awesome.

Passed through Asheville, NC to spend some time with the in-law, and Beaufort SC with the Cuz, over to Valdosta, Ga to see the boys and then on through Florida to walk the warm sunny beaches less than a month after being on the slopes teaching Texas kids how to ski! Amazing.

We both enjoyed the work on the boat. We have some previous experience on boats (ha!) so felt comfortable tearing out and modernizing a whole galley (kitchen) including floors, counters and appliances; as well as all new varnish, floors throughout and Shelly’s magical canvas work. Plus we got to walk the beaches as often as we liked.

South Florida in April has very strong thunderstorms and we came back to the RV one afternoon to find a 70 mile squall had come through, tore the anchors for the 21 foot awning out of the ground, ripped the supports out of the RV exterior wall, and thrown the 21 foot x 3 inch aluminum boom and awning up on the roof. All is well, as we were able to find replacement parts for repairs and sew a custom marine canvas awning in a very nice forest green to replace the old awning. This took much less work, effort and emotional toll than the 70 mile squall in Crisfield MD July 4th weekend 2016 where we almost lost our sailing home Yume!

From the east coast of Florida over to just north of Tarpon Springs on the west coast to have some window work done and visit the old sponge fishing port was a great start to the current travels. Straight up I75 for an interstate run that we rarely make to Valdosta to help Ryan pack for his impending move back to the same area of Atlanta where he was raised on a horse farm!

The following afternoon caught us in that horrible Atlanta traffic starting as far south of Macon and not ending until we were able to get out of Atlanta 4 days later 60 miles NW out of Stone Mountain. Yuk.

It was however, nice to see old friends and family.  The Williams were very kind to let us camp out in their rain forest 😉 with Kyle going the extra mile to ride on top of the RV to clear low branches down the driveway!

Momma got to help her youngest move into his first home, meet his new roommates and spend a little more time with her boys. (Not enough but is it ever enough?) A short but nice visit with family over in Stone Mountain while we camped for two days at Stone Mountain Park. (An interesting side note is that the park is privately owned so no matter what you read on social media or the news – the carving will always be there! And if you haven’t seen that ¼ mile high carving in the side of a mountain you are definitely missing out!)

Our last commitment this trip was three more days over Shelly’s birthday with her Mom in Marion, NC, then it was the beginning of this current meandering through the Great Smoky Mountains of NC especially Cherokee. We toured the Cherokee museum, attended the long running outdoor play “Unto These Hills” (the story of the Trail of Tears which has been playing since the 1950’s – go see it!)  then the Cherokee living village the next morning. I had not known how strong the Nation still was and we were both intrigued by their clan system and way of life.

It started raining in Cherokee, and kept raining for the next three or four days. In the magnificent forests of the Smoky Mountains the rain and the thunder are majestic. When the thunder starts, it rolls though the mountain for the longest time. The scary part is huge old trees falling due to saturated soil and erosion. In one camp on the Ocoee River, we pulled into a site surrounded by the debris of a very old, very large tree that had just missed the previous occupant! That stuff can keep me awake at night!

A day spent at Chickamauga National Park in Chattanooga, TN was incredibly interesting – and sobering. knowledge about war and suffering I am not sure I needed – but we all do. If you do not what these names mean – look it up and educate yourself! Lessons forgot will be learned again.

Travelling no more 120 miles a day, usually less, we meander from Tennessee, back into Huntsville, Al, up through Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and to the northeast corner of Oklahoma. Way back in December, our idea was to travel from Florida to Maine though the Mid – Atlantic States, then across the northern states and into Montana to look for a ski resort for next winter’s activities.

Our favorite parks are run by the Corps of Engineers and are usually on a dam, river or lake. They are well kept, on beautiful properties and only $11 a night with a senior pass!  This trip that included staying on the Tennessee, Ocoee, White, Norfolk Rivers. All beautiful places. Every now and then we stumble onto some awesome state parks like Sharon Johnson in Huntsville and Village Creek on Crowley’s Ridge in Arkansas. And no – we have never stayed at a Walmart parking lot!

Somehow we stumbled onto a request for a couple in an RV to stay on a hill under the trees on Grand Lake in Grove, OK and make sure the 100 or so sailboats in their sailing club do not sink at the docks while the owners work during the week. Sounded like a good gig to us and I guess we were supposed to be there as it all worked out. Sure is funny how we seem to be around boats even while in our RV!

On the last day of this trip we wake up to an achingly beautiful sunrise filtering through the cold mist floating off the Missouri White River below the Beaver Dam in the Corps of Engineers campground. There are just a few others here midweek and we are the first and only ones up. There is a magnificent Great Blue Heron watching me toss a lure into the river hoping not one huge rainbow trout decides to like it.

Time to stop for a month or two and get some projects done that have been put off for way too long, fill up the cruising kitty, and enjoy summer at the lake.  Somebody has to do it right?

Happy Birthday to Goose who turns 7!

So we continue to roam around the country and be absolutely amazed at the places and people we find. And we feel so very grateful!

Until next time…

Eastbound. Red River NM to Marion NC

Eastbound. Red River NM to Marion NC

Getting used to being on the road again.  We have had two ‘targets’ which drive our schedule. The first was a music gig at Pecan Creek Winery in Muskogee OK which meant we had to schedule our days to be there on time. Then the next was to be at the Asheville, NC VA hospital for my annual checkup. We will be there on Wednesday for that easily.

It has been an enjoyable two weeks since pulling out of Red River, albeit not without some challenges to work through.

Shelly helping out!

The weather turned cold, drizzly and dreary while we tried to troubleshoot some issues. New trailer brakes are shorting somewhere and 4 hours in a shop proved it might be hard to find. I did discover a trapped wire from my install – but that didn’t solve it! Finally after just cutting out all the connectors in the wiring to the brakes, checking for proper resistance, and reinstalling the connectors – the issue went away! Another one of those “take it apart and put it back together and hope it works out” success stories!

The crock pot jumped out of the cabinet over the fridge onto the floor, and wedged the cabinet face in the slide out which then ripped it in two as we were putting out the slide. All fixed but out of wood glue now!

Just normal stuff working out the bugs as we start moving again after 4 months sitting out the winter in Red River.

The main slideout is not coming in. I have to get under there every morning with a big pipe wrench and help it get started. Just glad we can get it in until we get somewhere I have the time and weather to figure out what is wrong. And we have two dump valves that need replacing. Definitely need those fixed before we have a really big mess on our hands!

Our normal day is to be on the road by 9 or so, and drive somewhere around 120-150 miles so we can be in just around lunchtime. That gives us time to explore in the afternoon and is an easy drive. We stay in wineries, state and national parks and anywhere that looks interesting! If we have to, we will stay in an RV park but normally they are crowded, expensive and noisy being close to the road.

It’s truly amazing what you discover in some of these places!

First night was in Clayton Lake State Park where we found thousands of dinosaur tracks. How cool is that! Apparently there used to be an inland sea cutting the US in half north to south and Clayton was a tropical swamp on the western edge where these herds of dinosaurs roamed in the mud. The mud got covered and the tracks were frozen in time until an overflow from a man made lake revealed them. Amazing!

North of Amarillo TX we stayed at Meredith National Park on a Meredith Lake with only one other RV. It was a beautiful morning with a short but welcome relief from the cold, wet weather.

On the following day we found ourselves back in Bixby, OK visiting the Swegers where we had backed the truck into the tree last July.  This time, unbeknownst to us, it had been raining for the last week and as I pulled into the drive the trailer wheels dropped of into the mud and sank like a stone. It took Ronny, his three boys and a lot of crawling around in the mud with jacks and stuff 4 hours to get out of that mess! We ended up on Ronny’s drive with a high pressure sprayer removing mud from everything late in the day. Great to see our friends from The Foundation for Exceptional Warriors. They have a wonderful nonprofit serving veterans.

Had fun playing some music Pecan Creek Winery in Muskogee, OK, enjoyed the wine and the great people! if you get there ask Bob to tell you how he went from being a founding member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils band to winery owner and Episcopalian priest!

Into Arkansas and struggling to find open parks as most have late April as opening day.  The Corps of Engineers had Robinson’s Point open but most of the lake sites were under water!

Goose actually caught a fish today. He loves fishing! Notice the power pole in the water?

 

Crowley’s Ridge State Park had two other vehicles in the whole park while we were there. We sat out a tornado warning in the truck for a bit!  This place has a great story. It is a north-south area of rolling hills  from one to 12 miles wide that stretch approximately 200 miles  in Missouri and Arkansas.  The ridge, rising 450–550 feet in elevation out of the surrounding flatlands was formed by debris and river rock from the Mississippi River on one side and the Ohio River on the other. We are talking massive rivers! Cool stuff.

This morning we sit in front of Tennessee Valley Winery in Knoxville, TN heading over to Marion NC today for a week. Stop by here and ask John to tell you about his base playing in a South African band and try some of his awesome dry Riesling wine! We love hearing (and telling) stories!

Until next time. Safe travels!