Favorite Downsizing Tools

I’ve got a couple downsizing tools that are not typically mentioned. Or at least they have not been discussed in blogs I’ve read. A  skill saw and reciprocating saw.

Mine happen to be battery operated. I keep a multipurpose blade on the skill saw. As reciprocating saw blades are easy to change out I have one for wood and another for metal.  I’d suggest buying good metal blades which decreases the time and effort needed to saw something up before the battery runs out. I might take the reciprocating saw on the road for cutting tree limbs, camp fire logs or whatever. The saw is wonderful for general purpose.
I’ve cut up a metal swing, flat screen television, furniture and more with these saws. There is not one safe thing in the house that will not fit in a our large trash can!

Around our house we always remember trash day is Tuesday, making sure to top the can off for the trash man. As our service will only take one large can, I keep a spare to fill up when I get a wild hair to cut-up stuff. Then transfer that to the normal can for the next week.  Works for me.
Found a few things around the house that don’t make it to the trash can without a second usage. The bottom of a plastic cat litter container or a coffee container make great paint pails.

We don’t have our truck yet so hauling loads to the dump is impossible. Once we have the truck there will be a couple larger items such as couches, which are junk now, to haul to the local large trash dump off site. Lucky for us the city runs a large item waste drop off point located a mile from home. They charge by the piece or truck load. Till then – I’m cutting it up for the trash man!

Karen and I just got back from a 2,300 mile trip from Missouri to Tennessee to Michigan and back. Visited family,  new full time RVers and a RV dealership. So lots to report on later.

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Weekend of Downsizing and Painting

Today was our family reunion which is held annually in Southern Missouri. I decided to stay home this year. Weekends are valuable commodities around here. Especially with just about a year left before we move on to the great RV adventure. Spent the time downsizing and painting.

Selling the motorcycle is among four things I’d like to get done before purchasing our dually truck.  Selling the hot tub happened a few weeks ago. Yesterday the motorcycle left the driveway and I was not riding it!   SOLD…

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This was one of many bikes I’ve owned. Had one since I was 18 years old. This latest bike was a big 1500cc which Karen and I much enjoyed riding through the scenic hills that surround our home. Sold it to a friend of a friend. I’ve actually had good luck selling stuff to co-workers and their friends. They all know we are leaving next year.  Sold a freezer to a co-worker’s daughter. She thanked us for the great deal, how clean the freezer was and the fact she had a young family and can now shop for bulk foods.  Win – Win deal for sure.

I should add an update regarding the truck I found in Springfield Missouri. It sold before I had a chance to make a move on it.  Was not meant to happen I’m sure. A part of me really wants to stick to a schedule leading to the purchase. However, after a lot, and I mean a lot, of shopping around I can say it’s fairly difficult to find a decent used truck equipped the way you want for hauling heavy loads. If I had to do it all over again, I’d figure out a way to be in a better position financially to buy a truck when I find it. We are debt free as of last January and I really don’t want to change that with a truck loan.  Meanwhile, our truck fund is growing so that’s a good thing.

I’ve been surfing the web for new blogs to read.  It’s an easy search in that for the most part I just hop over to blogs I follow and look at their list of other blogs they happened to follow. Especially from the list of bloggers who happened to be over-planners like myself. Here is a list of blogs I follow in case you are looking for a few to read.  I have several more bookmarked and check in on them every couple months.

At this point in planning what works good for me is to take a look at a blogger’s lists of past postings, selecting one that is written in the same time period we are at right now. For example, as we are into heavy downsizing and selling stuff off, I tend to be attracted to those pages. Finding all kinds of tricks and hints others are using. A blogger mentioned using Freecycle.org to get rid of personal belongings. Although the program is international, our local group does not appear to be very large. Check it out for your area. Basically, Freecycle is a not-for-profit created years ago to reduce the amount of materials going to landfills. Everything listed is free for the taking or giving. Another lead I got off a blog was Bagster.com. Here you buy very large bags and a boom truck comes around to haul them off.  Might be cheaper than a dumpster. Personally, I may just borrow a dump trailer from a friend once we have our truck for a trip to the local landfill. Already did the dumpster thing back in June when at the time we had plenty to fill it.  Dumpster are so convenient.

As I wrote earlier, we skipped the family reunion this year and spent time painting on the outside of the house. Believe I’ll never use a paint brand again other than Sherwin-Williams. It may sound funny but I had it down as a goal to paint one side of the house each year for the past four years. I’m behind schedule. Thankfully we are painting everything the same color and using a high quality paint so one coat coverage may be the time saver we are needing.  Karen read where if you paint something blue it will cut down on the number of bugs that cling to a surface. It works.. She painted the ceiling of our porch as an experiment a few years ago. 

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I repainted the blue ceiling with the local Ace Hardware paint she had originally used. Took about 25% more effort compared to the better Sherwin-Williams paint I’ve been using on the remainder of the house. You can’t see the blue ceiling from the street or sidewalk for that matter. So it does not stand out unless you are underneath it. Then it’s rather attractive.

I’ve sold three houses I’ve lived in. I painted all three.  A brush and roller are the main tools in my opinion after trying all the gadgets.  I really like the How to Paint a House Videos for tutorials. And here is a video on cleaning a roller and paint brush. This guy has it right. I personally don’t use a wire brush to clean a paint brush unless it has a lot of dry paint on it and then I also apply paint thinner. If you trust your method to clean a brush and roller completely then it’s not so hard to swallow the price of a decent roller and brush.

We are hiring a contractor to paint a taller side of the house because I don’t have the proper ladders for that. And now that I’m old I don’t bounce very well when falling off ladders.

We have one other blue ceiling in our home. I know it can be risky to “experiment” with colors in a home when you are looking to sell. We certainly have appreciated the differences while living here.  We added the sunroom maybe 10 years ago. The ceiling is vaulted so you don’t see it until you are in the room.

It’s a little difficult to see in these photos. From our kitchen you walk into the sunroom through a cased opening seen in the left photo. The photo on the right is the blue ceiling. This is actually a relatively expensive option for paint. Because it’s applied by the drywaller. First you paint the ceiling a flat color. Blue in this case, although a pale yellow is beautiful as well. Then the drywaller adds white paint with his ceiling texture before spraying it on the ceiling. Really gives the room an open and airy feeling.

Karen enjoys this room on a daily basis. When we starting using our third bedroom/office for a staging area to sort junk, she moved her desk into the sunroom. Now she gets to look across the back yard towards the treed hillside. Next year we both should have views like that – out our future RV windows.

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Karen’s view from her desk – Nice

Karen says our cousin Kathy posted photos of the family reunion. Believe I’ll head over to Facebook to check them out.

Downsizing – Garage Sale Preparation

Just finished up a couple 60 hours weeks at work. Karen has been busy working on garage sale preparation back at home. Thankfully I’ve got two vacation days planned for the end of this week. Just in time to finish the setup for our first large garage sale.

Perhaps the best advice I would give to anyone who is in the initial planning stages to move into an RV is to STOP BUYING STUFF NOW!  And the second advice I would give is hold a garage sale now, clean out some corners of the house. It will boost your morale and perhaps solidify the fact “this is really going to happen, we are really going to take the leap to a great journey.”  Karen and I are touching about everything we own, asking ourselves, do we need this in the next year? Do we think we might use it in an RV or give it away to a family member? Are we not sure and have to think about if we need/want it?  And is this something worth putting in a 5×10 storage unit we plan to rent?

Every Room is a Mess from Sorting

Sorry, not sure we can have any guests at the house for the next year. Most every room has a pile of stuff in it. We have been busy sorting and filling the trash receptacle each week. Thank goodness neither of us are particularly clean freaks. This would drive us crazy if that was the case. 

Sent a text to the neighbor to see if he had any tables we could use for the garage sale. His church loans them out for a small deposit. He even volunteered to take his trailer and pick the tables up with me.  Damn glad Steve moved in across the street.  Wonderful guy and hope to be able to return the favor. 

We cleared out some of the bookcases in the house and are moving those to the garage sale area to setup displays. I’ve been shopping around for camping tables we would want to take on the road. Buying at least one early so we can use that in the garage sale as well. Leaning towards a 5′ table that folds in the middle. Should be easy to store in the fifth wheel basement.

As for non-garage sale events there has been a little progress in planning. We are still trying to buy our truck by September. Darn, found the perfect one, used with 4,000 miles, about three hours from home. Just not ready to buy yet. So, I sent the owner an email and told him don’t worry if he does not sell it by September, I’d come over and give him an offer.  It’s a 2017 Ram Laramie Longhorn with a B&W hitch, nice bed cover, 3.73 gears, Aisin transmission and air bags. Well within our budget. Karen says to buy it now. I still have three goals to accomplish before the truck and I’m sticking to it.

Friends I’ve met online, some moving to an RV this year and others in 2019, have been communicating with us regularly. Thank you to all who are sending the emails and text message. Really learning a lot from you!

And finally; I sent in the paperwork for my first retirement check. This is from a corporate job I held years ago. First check should arrive in September:)  Also figured out technically I only have to be at work 71 days next year. Karen and I have not formally moved up the retirement date from November of 2019. However, we sure are looking at what month would be more practical which is not the first part of winter as planned. Maybe we will head north from Missouri, where the RV prices are better, as early as April of 2019 and see what happens if we find our new home on wheels.

I was looking at Craigslist to see how people were posting garage sale adds and found this one.  Funny stuff.

Life in Kansas City – Downsizing and Family Time

May and June have been busy months as we occupied our time with family and getting the homestead ready to sell.  For those already on the road I’m sure this will bring back memories. For those thinking about, or in the clutches of preparing for a life on the road, my advise is get started as soon as possible. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this in less than a couple years.  Although the prize of freedom is quit large and certainly is a motivator.

Officially I’ve left our take off date as November 1, 2019. However we got to thinking; does it really make sense to leave as winter is starting? Especially as we want to see family in what would be colder climates before Karen and I crawl off into our winter hibernation in a deep southern state. That date of November 1 will more than likely be adjusted up a little.  Recently Karen and I have began talking at a very conceptual level about what we want to do the first couple months on the road. More on that later for sure.

For two years now, family has gotten together for a three night campout at Pomme de Terre State Park and Lake. Ninety degree weather each day was a bit hard to endure but we found ways to make it work. Such as building a tent city under the best shaded spots. I gave our tent to a nephew once the trip was over. No need for it next year as we will have our fifth wheel by then – and air conditioning!

Start of Tent City

Add on eating area. We also had three other spots full of tents and family.

Setting Jug Lines for Fishing

Ringo Likes the Water

Back at home I’ve been working to over-haul the front yard landscaping. Building curb appeal I’m hoping. Two years ago the front yard grass was re-seeded and this last spring I spent a lot of time controlling weeds to build the yard up.  I cut out all the overgrown bushes and tilled the planting beds. I’ve been driving by my favorite plant store waiting for plants to go on sale and finally scored a 50% off deal for a trunk load of replacement plants. We have 13 planting beds scattered through-out the property and along our wooded walking trail. Those are looking good as well. Most importantly, we have been spending time enjoying the place as much as possible.

I’ve also been painting on various sides of the house over the last couple years and have a contractor coming in to help with the two-story side. Karen has always taken photos around the property, especially when the flowers and trees are in bloom. A couple years ago I started adding to the collection in an attempt to capture the hills behind and in front of the home in photos. Our plan is to print off the best photos for an album which we are going to leave out for potential buyers to view. The scenery changes so much with each season that I’m thinking it would be a good idea to document it.

Hills out back with no leaves on trees.

Zoomed in view from the front yard.

And the purge continues. I gave myself a goal to complete four major tasks before purchasing our truck, preferably by around September. Well the first of four is done as the hot tub was carted off by it’s new owner last Friday.
We have a list of contractors to call, such as our alarm guy to move and repair some connections, carpet guys and such. Contractors should speed things up a bit.  The plan is to finish all the outside work before winter so we only have to spruce the yard up before the house goes on the market. Over this winter we are finishing up the inside stuff. Next month is our first of at least two garage sales and we have been selling off more expensive items on Craigslist.

Life in Kansas City – Graduations and Last Events

Karen and I are busy enjoying life around our home and with family. I’ll get back to truck discussions soon as I’ve started preparing a post about the Ram truck options, hoping to gather input from others.  We have been mildly busy downsizing, posting more expensive items on Craigslist and considering our first of probably two garage sales. More on that later.

There are life choices that  become our achievements and add to the public welfare or not. We can spend 30 years in a job, doing good for others and improving our community. Unfortunately, most of our role and notoriety goes away, fading into dim memories once we retire from it. I’ve been watching friends leave the workforce and thinking back about those long gone. Attending volunteer meetings, committees and public events that are now becoming part of the past. I think about life’s achievements and what parts are truly long lasting and something to be proud of. I agree with a last piece of advice I received from my Uncle Don – I should have said no to a lot of things and spent time elsewhere. Guess in a way I’m following the advice and moving on. Darn glad Karen is taking the plunge with me. She has a survivor’s personality and is the strength in that category between the two of us. Fearless…

Here is a photo of a group of retired co-workers who were part of my first lessons on the job. I was invited to attend one of their regular luncheons. What a great group of guys. Many retired years ago and now sit around telling war stories. I have no plan to be part of a similar lunch group. It’s the open road for me, never slowing down to leave deep roots in one place. Experiencing the next part of the journey with my wife. This is more important now than going back in time to relish in the accomplishments which meant a lot at the time and little in the future.

Proud Parents – Fantastic Child

Here is a photo of what means the most and perhaps is the only legacy that will give back to our community for years to come. Catherine is her name and graduating with her master’s degree was the game. I have no doubt she is busy right now making a difference in other’s lives and setting a fine example that will be passed along to the next generation. I’m proud she thinks for herself. Together with her husband their future is bright. How wonderful it is to have no fear for your child’s future which someday will be without her mom and me. Even for shorter periods of months and someday when Karen and I make that journey from which no one returns. Smart girl; taking time after she graduated from college with her under-graduate degree (a double major) to find a career path and then moving on to post-graduate study in a field she enjoys. Really like the fact the school loans are paid off as well!  Now try and beat your mom and I by becoming debt free before 55!  Had to throw that lesson in. One never stops being a parent.


Here is a photo of a recent family get together. What jumps out at me the most are those that are not in the photo. Which happens to be the entire generation of family before myself, sisters and brother. Among those in the photo are the faces of nieces, nephews and their friends. It was not that long ago when I and my siblings were part of the children and young adults in a family photo. Those days are no more. What a great group of young family. They are all making a difference in this world for the best. In about 30 years this young group will write their own stories. And those stories will no doubt include thinking back when they were the young ones in the photo and what was the older generation’s part in setting them up to better meet life’s challenges. By the way, they will also oversee how well, or not, we live as old people. Now I wish we had done even more for their future success.

And here are a few photos of what I’ve been up to for perhaps the last time or season. Well, at least while living in this house and perhaps forever. The yard and gardens are looking wonderful this year. This time next year it will all be for sale. It’s odd how when one gets ready to make a major move we think about this being the last time to do something, for good or bad.  For the gardeners out there, who may travel from fantastic place to place in their RV – I hope these photos make you as jealous as I get looking at your photos of mountains and lakes.

 

And above are photos of how life regenerates itself in the form of buildings. Our ancestors stacked the bricks that make up our town. Those buildings they invested so heavily in became in disrepair as if no one ever cared after those fellow citizens moved along on their own next journey. Thank you to the generation who built the national parks, scenic roadways and community we all enjoy today. The building on the left is a revitalized hotel, called the Oaks. Restored to its prior beauty and now houses people 55 years of age and older. And the hotel on the right, which happens to be on the opposite side of the road from the Oaks, is known as the Royal Hotel. If you look closely, a tree is growing from a window. I recall spending time on the top floor, overlooking the city in its café.  A joyful memory from the past which those in the future may now be able to experience. The Royal has been purchased and is to be restored. Well, maybe, in a small way, being on the planning and zoning committee meant something.

If Tom Brokaw really thinks the Great Depression and World War II generation is the “greatest generation” then he is wrong. I don’t mean to be disrespectful and certainly not unthankful. But without much effort I can think of a half-dozen events during the so called greatest generation that were not that great for the next generation. No worries, we have all done it. Fortunately, through experience passed on to our young families there is always a chance to make things better. I have no doubt our daughter, nephew and nieces will make up for our mistakes. When I think hard about it, those millennials are not the creators of problems any more than the baby boomers like myself. Or the “greatest generation” who might have referred to males with long hair as hippies. Need I remind them that judging by the images of Jesus Christ – he also had long hair.

Life in Kansas City – Getting Past Another Winter

It’s Super Bowl Sunday 2018 and yet again the Kansas City Chiefs did not make it out of the first round of playoffs.  We are due for a trip to the big game. Len Dawson quarterbacked the Chiefs in Super Bowl one in 1967. The team took the trophy home  in 1970 during Super Bowl four which is the last time we have been to the Super Bowl as a team.  Lenny is still alive and an approachable guy. Team Owner Lamar Hunt was the driving force behind organization of the American Football League in 1959. He founded the Dallas Texans in 1960 and moved the team to Kansas City in 1963. I did not know that until I looked his biography up. Lamar spearheaded the merger negotiations with the National Football League. Hunt’s son owns the team today. If you have ever been to the Chief’s Stadium you know there is little doubt our title as the loudest outdoor stadium in the world is well earned. Opposing teams have a hard time communicating as the crowd noise is just over 142 decibels at the field level. In comparison, the deck of an aircraft carrier has sound levels at 140 decibels while a jet taking off 25 meters away is at 150. I’ve been to games where fans stood for most of the game, making it easier for the fan behind you to beat on the back of your chair. It was disappointing this year for the city. When the Royals recently had a couple years of success it surely was nice to see the citizens of our town come together. I think their behavior shifted for a time because they were proud to be from our town. Weird how that works.

On the work front, we were able to move into new office space.  We had been living in temporary quarters which was a large training center. Our new space has room for expansion. Although our individual workstations are small, the space is better used.  They have added a break area and larger conference table in an open area, centered between our workstations. We tend to work a lot of weird hours and it’s not uncommon for the group to gather around the table in the middle of the night to take a break.  I think the space helps build a team environment and it’s nice to have a change of view which makes us more productive.

Oh, and truly not to be bragging, but I was surprised to receive my divisions Deputy of the Year Award.  I’ll add that to the other two yearly awards hanging from my wall.  It’s a nice feeling to know there is no damage done after I announced I’d be leaving in 2019.  I got to thinking the other day while on what could have been a difficult assignment. One thing about getting older and more experienced at work is things tend to come easier. Been there, done that a hundred times kind of thing. Wish I could leave that feeling of confidence behind in the minds of the younger folks. I’m trying to do my best to get them up to speed, passing along what I know if their willing to listen. Most do listen as senior employees tend to be respected in our profession.  I dreed saying goodbye. But I’m sure that emotion will quickly dissipate as I say hello to a new way of life.

On the home front we finally got out of a very cold January but at least the snowfall has been very light. January is our coldest month with average lows of 18 degrees. Here in a couple weeks we usually have a few warmer days. Gardeners will be wondering if it’s time to till their gardens.

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Today Karen and I are planning to walk through our property and finds some downed trees to cut up for the fireplace. We might also be tackling cleaning out a couple spaces in the basement storage as part of our ongoing downsizing. Yesterday I scanned all the 2017 documents which went better than the prior years. I’ve stopped using staples and even paper clips when possible.  Makes the scanning process go so much quicker.  Slowly, I’m figuring out how to receive documents online and moving them directly into a folder on the computer to avoid the scanning process all together. We both have been researching places to sell unique items. This spring or summer we intend to do the garage sale thing at least once.  Karen and I have come to the conclusion that we will maintain a small storage locker for at least the first year after we move.  Our hallway bathroom is 5×10 so we can use that as an example of what will fit in the same size storage space.  Lots of reasoning went into that decision and I might post a blog on that later.  I’m sure our reasons are typical of other’s reasons.

We also paid off the house last month. Yea, seven months ahead of schedule. Will be using the money to save up for a new truck! Now I’ve got to remember to call the County Tax Assessor to have next years tax bill sent to me rather than the mortgage company. Also will need to make the same change with the insurance company. And make sure the mortgage company releases the lean.

On the RV front, I’ve been reading a few of your blogs and envy those relatively warmer climates many are spending the winter in. For several years now I’ve been keeping a list of campground spots you all and others are using in the winter. That should come in handy:)  Recently I also noticed what appears to be a big increase in RV manufacturer’s recall notices.  Here are just a few announcements in the past two months. I follow a couple media sources where recalls are frequently seen. As you may recall from a past blog post, in 2105 Forrest River got themselves in a jam with the National Highway Safely folks. They were or maybe still are facing serious fines for failing to recall products in a timely manner. I’m thinking the entire industry may have been placed on notice.  Maybe this is the first step in forcing needed changes in the quality of production. Time will tell.

Meeting Fulltimers Steve and Debbie

Karen and I were excited to spend a couple days with Steve and Debbie from the Down the Road Blog. In late 2014 Karen and I made the decision our future would be in an RV – someday. Doing like most I started surfing the web for ideas. Got lucky and found the class of 2014 whom had attended the RV Dreams Rally together. Debbie calls them the 14teeners or however that’s spelled. For us future-timers meeting those we have followed during their journey is like meeting a rock star.

Really appreciated Steve and Debbie diverting to Kansas City as they made their way up from southern Missouri. As is the custom in our house, we ask out of towners what their interests are. In this case, western stuff, history, breweries, hiking or outdoors and BBQ. Debbie and I communicated via email and then texting as the couple arrived near town. Karen and I came up with some ideas based on what the couple suggested were their interests and then just played it by ear, doing whatever made sense.

They camped at Fleming Park/Blue Springs Lake, south of downtown Kansas City near the sports complexes. This was our second visit to the campground having met out of towners there in the past. It’s a county park. Karen and I drove out to Steve and Debbie’s where we learned several new tricks about picking a spot in a park, towing a fifth wheel, working on-line, nice features to look for in a fifth wheel and a bunch more. As is the case most of the time with those coming to town, Steve wanted to eat at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. I decided taking them to the original location would be a special treat and give them a chance to see a little of the Kansas side of Kansas City, Missouri. But first we made a stop at our local “famous” brewery which is Boulevard. North of Kansas City is Weston Missouri which has a history of distilling and scattered all around the area are wine vineyards. Most don’t know Missouri is also wine country, given the French influence before the area was part of the United States. Owners of a winery down the street from our home told me wine gets its flavor from the soil which is the reason they picked this area. Here are some photos. Karen says Debbie is very photogenic.

City scape from porch at top of building

We took a tour – beer served before and after!

After dinner, because it was not far away, we drove over to the Plaza Shopping Center. This is the countries first outdoor shopping center. The developer (JC Nichols) was friends with the King of Spain. Kansas City has a sister city in Spain and Nichols modeled the buildings after Spanish buildings. Missouri is called the Show Me State. We are also the Cave State and Kansas City is the City of Fountains. The Plaza is a great place to see fountains although they are spread all over town. Not far from the largest fountain near the Plaza is a Vietnam War memorial. Steve and Debbie are into locating geocaches. We walked down to one at the memorial and then Steve and Debbie bought us ice cream to (more than) replace the calories we burned.

Debbie – Here is a view of the Christmas Lights on the Plaza I told you about.

The world may be coming to an end, the 20 something year old we got to take this photo asked me how to take a picture with my cell phone. Wow

The couple spent the next day on their own touring western/history stuff in nearby Kearney Missouri which is centered around the Frank and Jessie James home. Then they came out to the house for a meal. Really hope we meet again. Karen and I can’t say enough how much we enjoyed our time with the couple. Wish we would have had time to show them around our town of Excelsior Springs Missouri.

As a lore (on my part) to visit the state, Debbie says a new Springfield Missouri museum, located by Bass Pro is now open. I recalled some time ago seeing city blocks cleared away in Springfield to make room. It’s called the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

I meant to post something about the decision to take a social security benefit at age 62 and how I rate fifth wheels. That will have to wait until next time.

 


Forest River fined
by Indiana OSHA for safety violations. Beginning in 2015 they were also in trouble with the Feds for failing to recall trailers when needed. The Cedar Creek is at the top of our list for a new fifth wheel, but violations like these is hurting my opinion of the company. Also, a sales person at another manufacturer, whom I trust, used to work at Forest River and told me a few other facts that were bad to hear such as employees racing around throwing trailers together so they could go home early.


Rollin’ On TV Series has a number of interesting and well-done videos.