Family Camping Trip, July Travel Plans and More

You can imagine how busy it has been around here as our plan is to put the house on the market during the week of July 15th.  Karen and I are heading towards Howell Michigan the same week.

A good time was had by all at our annual family campout, held again at one of Missouri’s wonderful State Parks. Since the early 1970’s there has been a special conservation sales tax in Missouri which helps fund our parks and keeps the user fees low.


This year nearly everyone had an RV so we took five spaces around an inside loop, leaving a large green space between the RVs for play areas, campfires or whatever.


Of interest to Karen and I, was getting used to our water holding tanks. The State Park had electric only so we filled our 70 gallon fresh water and 10 gallon hot water tanks as we entered the park. Our grey tank is 90 gallons and black is a typical 45 gallons. Nearly ran out of fresh water in three days but luckily there was a water hydrant 60 feet away so I was able to add another 35 gallons with no problem.

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Washing dishes outside

Karen did not know our utility bay water included hot water. We washed dishes outside when able to avoid using grey tank space as well as taking showers at the park shower area. Our trip to Michigan includes seven days without water and sewer hookups. However, we will not be spending as much time at the camper as we are visiting family. Someday, maybe or not, I’ll invest in a 30 or 35 gallon Aquatank fresh water bladder and pump where I can haul water in the truck to the camper. Of course, the grey tank capacity is usually the limiting factor.

On our trip to Michigan we will be stopping in Hannibal Missouri for a couple days. It’s the home of Mark Twain. From there we are heading north on Interstate 55 and are trying to find spots for two overnight stays that keep the trip 200 to 300 miles per day. Hard to find a good stop so far on the south side of the Chicago area before we hit I-80.

I finally bit the bullet and paid for a one year subscription to RV Trip Wizard. And we picked up a large text format road atlas at Walmart for $11. I copy all notes into my Google Calendar so there is one place to check after the planning is done. For navigation I’m still depending on my truck’s great GPS and phones.  I also write out a list of roads and turns on a piece of paper as a quick reference. We still have not got the rest stop thing figured out other than typically we (dogs) can go two hours without a break. Over time I’m sure we will get used to pulling the trailer and feel more comfortable with unplanned stops.

Finally went past the 600 miles towed mark. As expected, hauling the beast around is not as stressful as I thought it would be after a few miles, turns and stops.  Even backed-in twice on the first try each time. A friend was right I suppose when he said if I was used to backing a boat trailer, the fifth wheel would not be such a problem.  One thing still on the list is getting Karen out driving the dually truck. That might be something to do while we are in Michigan. Once we leave fulltime we will only have the one vehicle. When Karen is outside the RV as we park she uses a walkie talkie to communicate with me. For now there are only three words she is suppose to use to help keep me less confused. Stop is the most important word. And when she wants me to push the trailer to one side or the other she says driver or passenger which indicates which way to move the trailer. I think she is still getting used to the fact the trailer does not instantly turn. For me, I have her always stand where I can see her and for the most part, watch the direction the tires are heading for an indication of where the trailer will end up. Works for now.

We still want to get some photos posted of our new fifth wheel and I’ve started a list of items the factory support center will need to repair on the trailer. I’ll report back on both topics when I get a chance.

Lastly, my 20 year old pancake style air compressor would not handle the 110 pound pressure requirements on the RV tires. So, reluctantly I spent the money on the highly recommended Viair 12 volt portable.

Viair 400P RVS

Viair just came out with a new series of air compressor – the RVS – which as an improvement allows you to stand up while the tire is airing-up.  Bought it from Technorv.com. Really like shopping there as well as at etrailers.com. Both companies do a great job or narrowing the choices down to a few good models and brands for about every RV related product you can think of. Both also have instructional videos.

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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 – Evening Airshow

I had planned to discuss a few changes in the RV industry, specifically for Forest River, that has a potential of causing an effect on the timeliness of RV repairs and certainly response to recall notices. However, Karen and I went out to test her “new eyes” and had some fun. So more on that first.

For the past two years first responders (fire, EMS and police) were invited with their families to an earlier airshow performance at one of our local county airports. Karen had been spending time indoors healing after eye surgery during which cataracts were removed AND she now has corrected vision with her new lens implants. No more eye glasses! Seemed like a good idea to go watch some airplanes as well as spend some time with coworkers and their families after hours.

A special treat was a late evening performance by Team Aeroshell. They fly the North American T-6 Texan trainer which was first built in 1935. These planes were equipped with fascinating lighting systems which added to the thrilling acrobatics taking place in the late evening sky. The planes took off as the sun was going down.

I used our Canon T3 digital DSLR camera to film much of the show. I’ve got zero experience shooting video, nor the proper lens or even a tripod. I gave it a shot anyway.

I found that WordPress allows you to insert YouTube video even if using a free account. This was my first attempt at video editing. As I prefer to use standard Microsoft products, which are bundled in Windows 10, I edited with Movie Maker.

Team Aeroshell finished the show by parking directly in front of the crowd. They spun their planes around in a circle with smoke on. Was a wonderful way to chase bugs off as the smoke covered the crowd. I don’t have a photo of this as there was no point in trying to take one.

 

After the show, I had to take Karen to Sonic for ice cream. A coworker mentioned during the show that he had feed his child ice cream for dinner. Saying Karen loves ice cream is a total understatement of fact.

 


Video by the Gadget Guru about diesel exhaust fluid (D.F.F.)

Trip to Springfield Missouri

Work took me to Springfield Missouri for a few days. Figure I’d pass-on a little information about Springfield which is the third largest city in Missouri.

 

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Springfield Missouri – Big Town with a Small Town Atmosphere

 

I’d been traveling to Springfield for most of my life, having family that settled that area in the 1800’s. On this trip I met up with my niece Brooklyn who is a local resident. We had a hamburger at one of the popular joints and later she drove me through town pointing out some of the hangouts she prefers. She noted the town is home to six colleges or universities. I’d not spent much time in the downtown area in the past. It’s chucked full of interesting businesses and things to see. Brooklyn drove so I was able to watch the scenery. I thought back to when she was born and later when her folks moved to southern Missouri. She is all growed up was another thought I had. Time with her was the best part of the trip. By the way, for my English major daughter, I assume it’s okay to use Missouri slang when writing about this part of the state.

Located just 45 minutes north of Branson Missouri, Springfield is near the end of the Ozark Prairie with hills to the south. To me, Springfield is a fine example of small town attitude with the amenities of a larger city. You will find very few high-rise buildings as the town’s laid out flat with straight major roads. I read through their 2016 visitors guide and found 16 stops I’d still like to make. Even after years of visiting the area.

Missouri is not just the Show Me State. We are also the Cave State. And there are fine examples of this around Springfield. The area has major civil war battlefields, minor league baseball, a tiger sanctuary, is the home of Bass Pro and more. If you’re not from Missouri or a neighboring state you may not know about Springfield. I’d think a trip from Kansas City or St. Louis to Jefferson City, on to Springfield and then to Branson (or in similar order) would give one a good taste of the state. That is if your wanting to visit larger towns and tourist areas.

For us outdoor types it might also be important to note that beginning in 1937 with a special sales tax, Missouri has spent a lot of money on outdoor spaces through the Missouri Conservation Department.

 

For this trip I left a rural area north of Kansas City eventually traveling south on state highway 13 towards Springfield which was a three-hour drive.  In the Warrensburg area I came across several roundabouts which semi-trucks had no problem negotiating.  Once I got further south, near Truman Lake, there were plenty of RV campsite signs. I saw many rigs on highway 13 which led me to believe it is a popular highway for RVs.  You can also take highway 65 south from I-70. I’ve not been that way in a long time so can’t comment on the drive. At I-70 and highway 13 there are a couple RV parks as well.  Or for a quick run, Interstate 44 runs to Springfield from St. Louis. Stop and see the sites before you head to nearby Branson.

I didn’t take many photos, well at least of the landscape. I spent a lot of time at two Springfield RV dealerships and plan to report back on that soon.

I’ve passed one place on the trip up and down highway 13 several times and have been told I’d missed out. Well this time I stopped at Osceola Cheese. They have been around since the 1940s and have 275 varieties of cheese for sale. There are free samples for those who know little about cheese, which would be me.  They have two acres of parking to include RV spots. I saw a large class A with a toad stop with no problem. For those familiar to the area, I’d like to stop near Bartle Scout Reservation at Iconium near Osceola to relive a memory of my Boy Scout days and have a Peach Nehi float! Guess that will have to wait for the next trip. I also want to check for any civil war sites in or around Osceola. There was a famous confederate raid on Lawrence Kansas which was sparked by an earlier union raid of Osceola.


Thanks for reading. I’m trying to report back on various stops in Missouri for those who would normally “fly-over” the state. Let me know if you have any questions about “Missour-uh.”

 

PS – For those that have not fallen to sleep while reading the above:

During my last post I mentioned we were replacing our kitchen appliances in the sticks and bricks home. We bought the refrigerator from Home Depot after looking at a model in the store and then ordering it online from Home Depot. The delivery went perfect. A computer called my phone the day before and reminded me the deliver was the next day. The delivery driver called 30 minutes prior to arrival. I was gone out of town at the time. Karen was at home and said the guys that delivered the refrigerator were awesome. They hauled off the packing material, hooked up the water line and carted off the old refrigerator. The delivery and installation was free with the purchase. We paid an added charge of $15 to have the old unit removed.

(10/1/17 update) The Wonders of Wildlife Museum is now open in Springfield. It’s huge.

 

 

new flash  News Flash – New DRV Aire coming fall 2017. Click here for the News Release

Life in Kansas City – Sold a Truck and Kitchen Remodeling

One of the benefits of long-term planning is the ability to spread-out time consuming tasks over several years. Another benefit, as it relates to saving for our future in an RV, is cutting expenses now and reaping the savings over a longer period.

Among my list of tasks to complete in 2016 was to sell off a vehicle or two. Karen and I had talked about downsizing to one family car which is still something we might do. However, she started a part-time job at the Crescent Inn Bed and Breakfast and is making use of the spare car. She is excited to be working again. Her tasks at the Inn include checking customers in, housekeeping, serving breakfast and customer service. I told her the new job would look better on a workamping resume then anything I had to offer on mine! So for now we are keeping the second car.

I’m happy to report another monthly expense is gone! We sold our old 2002 truck and the money raised is going right into our RV/truck fund to join the money collected with the sale of our boat earlier this year.  Next spring, the motorcycle is going to share the same fate.

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Old Truck is Sold and Money is in Savings

Over about three years, or maybe five – I forget, we have been remodeling the kitchen. Early in the year we installed ceramic tile floors to go with the tile backsplash. I’d been trying to talk Karen into replacing the appliances. They are dented and in various stages of disrepair such as broken buttons and cracked plastic. The refrigerator finally gave out so now we are using a smaller spare unit located in the basement. I consider it our new exercise plan which requires we run up and down the stairs for food.

Next Thursday the new fridge is to be delivered free of charge as part of the purchase. So not having a truck was a non-issue the first time we needed one.  I’m surprised in learning from a knowledgeable appliance salesman the anticipated life of a “modern” refrigerator is only 15 years and a dishwasher is eight years.

I’ll spare you the details but we decided on going to Maytag appliances which are middle of the road in terms of expense, construction and amenities.  Maytag uses smudge resistant stainless steel which was a must have per Karen. I had looked into Whirlpool, who also build the Maytag and their upper end KitchenAid brand. I was shocked to discover Whirlpool are now builder grade level appliances, best suited for apartments or moderate priced spec homes.  Here in 2016 I notice a lot of fifth wheels in the $60 to $80,000  MSRP price point use Whirlpool for residential style refrigerators. Trailers about $10,000 more expensive is where I’m seeing better brand names are used such as LG and Samsung.

We ordered the refrigerator and microwave now as both were on sale with free delivery into our home and only a $15 fee to haul off the old fridge. After giving consideration to buying from three local stores or two online appliance sites, we went with Home Depot. What I discovered could be a big change in the way these larger stores do business, given the competition from internet sales. We looked over the appliances we were interested in at the store and then went online to buy them from Home Depot as they were not stocked in the store.  Part of good marketing is to make it easy to buy something. I was impressed with the ease of doing business with Home Depot. They even had a phone number to call after hours with questions. Installation was scheduled only four days after the purchase and they sent us a tracking number to follow the shipment. The sale price was the same or less than advertised at discount websites such as AJ Madison who don’t haul off old appliances.


I should also add we decided on a French door refrigerator with the freezer in a bottom drawer. According to a salesman who we trusted, more of the units built and sold are French door rather than the side by side unit we are replacing. The salesman said 90% of what they sell are French door versions which make better use of inside space and don’t cause you to bend down to get in the least accessed portion of the fridge which is not the freezer section. In other words, the freezer is on the bottom because you access it less than the cold food storage area. Karen and I are trying to pay attention to what the future owner of our home might want. We did not go with a convection microwave but are getting a convection stove which again were more than half of what are selling at Home Depot. I’m thinking the standard electric stove/oven is a thing of the past. We plan to replace our current stove and 14-year-old broken knobbed dishwasher once they go on sale at a discount and we have saved up the cash to pay for them.

On the RV front I’ve been reading up on what are the best truck colors for ease of maintenance. I’ve also been giving some thought to if we can justify full body paint on the trailer and if so what would be the best colors for heating and cooling concerns. More on that later.

Bought an Inflatable Kayak

Karen and I decided to brave the Labor Day crowds at the local state park to try out our new inflatable kayak. Having a portable hobby will be nice while we travel as it will provide yet another way to explore. Paddling should also be a great way to exercise.

I spent loads of time researching inflatable boats and accessories such as life vests and water proof bags. Here is a link to my notes if you’re interested.

The boat dealer suggested we inflate the kayak overnight to check for any problems before we took it to the lake.  Of course, photos were in order even if it’s at dry dock (our basement).

Although the Sea Eagles FastTrack 385 is rated for class two whitewater, we plan to stick with open lakes while we learn to paddle. Fortunately, there are two lakes within 30 minutes of our home. I found a nice map with descriptions of places to kayak at Paddle.net.

Sea Eagle FastTrack

We left the camera in the car so we did not get any photos while on the lake. The boat performed like a champ! Took 20 minutes to set it up and then another 45 minutes when others at the dock wanted to look the boat over before we could got it in the water. We were amazed at how fast we could go with two people paddling.  We were also able to quietly move up to a few birds who were busy fishing which was awesome.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments. We are totally new to kayaking and would appreciate any suggestions you can offer.

RV Batteries – An Update

I had forgotten to report what RV batteries we might go with once we get our rig. I had mentioned this within an earlier blog post. Shawn at ktmissouri.blogspot.com, recommended we start off with two batteries which is what we will do.

Here is a link to my notes on batteries if you’re interest.