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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blogs I like

There are a few blogs I follow daily if I can. In no particular order, I like Nick Russell’s Gypsy journal  and Howard Payne’s RV-Dreams Journal, There are some others that I occasionally check in on if I have the time but these give me some specific satisfactions that help me keep the faith that we will be full-timing one of these days.

Gypsy Journal

I enjoy NIck’s blogs because he tells it like it is, adds some local color in the forms of a little history, a little current events in the area, some rving perspectives (if there are any worth mentioning) and a slew of names and links to other’s blogs, websites, products, and relationships, all of which I find useful from time to time when I am particularly interested in something related to his subject matter or those folks. 

Miss Terry seems to be the glue that holds Nick and their lifestyle together and the grease that keeps it moving smoothly.. not to mention that in a head-to-head skills contest she would whip Tim the tool man Taylor before the audience even had a chance to laugh at his first joke.

RV Dreams Journal

Howard does an excellent job on RV-Dreams of just giving the day to day grind of a workamper’s life without slighting the hardships or embellishing the joy and splendor. His pictures are the keys to the castles of nature that they visit and Linda holds her own with the customers and other workampers and certainly seems to make each day work out in the end.

Some days, the challenges they meet seem almost surreal in scope and yet, they get the job done without much more than an occasional “sheesh!”.  I think we have gotten enough “reality” from them that when we step into Workamping, there will likely be no surprises in what we encounter.

I still hate the word Blog!  But that does not keep me from reading them when I can. Its a new world growing right under our feet and if we don’t pay attention it will move on without us. The blogs of others can be more than a cathartic personal journal. More than a history lesson and more than a travelogue…. They can be educational and FUN!

Both of these folks have a website with their histories, how they got into a full time RVing lifestyle and lots and lots of helpful references, links and even financial planning tools, like budgets and financial histories to help others do their own planning for the life.

Kudos guys

…. I have tried to make this blog a daily or even semi-weekly routine but I guess I just don’t have enough happening each day (or enough focus each day… gotta work on that) to make it happen. It is not easy or automatic, I can tell you.  It does take dedication and focus to just get it down. It takes even more to feather in pictures and architect the pages each day to be interesting at a glance and still be informative through the reading.

ttfn

Friday, June 19, 2009

A little welding here… a little dancing there…

This past week has been somewhat physically uncomfortable for me. I don’t know if it has been this odd weather or something I ate but whatever it was, I have just not been feeling like revving my engines much.

Having said that, I still managed to make dance class Wednesday evening and we learned the Tango.  Not a big accomplishment for most folks but a real milestone for me. We have one more lesson in this series and then its over but we have already signed up for another class for beginning Shag lessons and I can hardly wait until it starts.

Oh! And I found some dancing shoes that work for me.  I did not order custom…. such things never fit me right. But these were at Belks and I had a great old fashioned shoe salesman wait on me that actually knew shoes. Boy!  It sure is easier dancing in these things with leather soles than in sneakers (quieter, too).

Merrily is getting interested in Zumba lessons (don’t ask.. just Google them). After seeing some examples I don’t know whether to sign up or just lay down and die now and spare the aggravation and sweat.  I have no doubt that it would be a fun workout… but I want to live, too.

The good news is that I am now down to 287 lbs, 30 lbs off of my January 2009 weight of 317lbs. No diets, no pills, just walking every day and reduced portions.  Maybe this ought to be another blog someday but now, on to the welding….

For reasons mentioned at the top, I did not make the welding class on Thursday evening. I wanted to but my body denied me the trip to class and back.  However, my boys did go and did well. Emery actually had a project he needed to make and took his stuff up there and made a jig for building frames for screen printing T-shirts with blended colors.  Randy was playing a little catch up since he had missed the week before but he learned TIG welding and had a great time, too. I will definitely be there this coming week, though.

ttfn

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And a welding we will go….

The welding class is going… well…. well!  I had forgotten how much fun it is to throw arcs, melt steel and have the sparks flying!  Its particularly great because I get to watch my two youngest sons, Emery and Randy, learn the tools and techniques that are available to make and modify metal structures.

We have covered torches (oxy-acetylene, plasma), “stick” welding (typical ages old electric welding with a flux coated rod or “stick”) and MIG (commonly called: Metal Inert Gas ) welding. Tonight, I think we cover TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding which is more like high temperature soldering with a tungsten arc rather than a hot contact iron.

I realized last week that my old eyes are just having too much difficulty seeing through the fixed shade welding visors they have at the class. I just could not see well enough around the arc to tell where I was going with the “puddle” so I did some research into auto-darkening helmets and they generally start around $120.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a good one for about $50 from Northern Tools. Harbor Freight also has one or two for about the same money. So I am headed out in a few minutes to grab lunch and pick up one from Northern Tools.

I have also found YouTube.com to be a great resource for supplemental welding instruction and examples.

Cool stuff!  BTW, Randy is back from E3, the gaming industry’s mega-conference and missed the last class so he will be there tonight. I have not had a chance to talk with him much about E3 but some of the links he sent me of new technologies in human recognition, like the NATAL project, are really mind blowing.  To think that in my short lifetime I have seen so many technologies of the Science Fiction books I devoured as a kid become real and then surpassed just gives me chills.

ttfn

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time for an update

Lots to talk about to get up to speed and current.

1. Tankless Hot water Heater:

Now sitting on the dining table and out of the box (good thing we eat out all the time).

I have checked it out. The only obvious possible shipping damage is that it was shipped with the back of the water heater facing down and there are the hot and cold water connections there. It was shipped with some solid Styrofoam blocks under it to lift its weight off of these connections. The cold water inlet connection appears to have been forced to the side and inward and may have bent the tankless copper pan it is soldered to as the copper line spirals around it. DOn’t know yet if this is any problem or not.

The plan is to first, pressure test it on a table in the yard to be sure it does not leak anywhere.  Next, will be to hook up 12 volts dc to it and see if the electronics seem to check out. Lastly, I want to hook some LP gas to it and give it a test or two to be sure it all works safely and correctly before I go to the trouble of removing the old Suburban DSI HWH and mounting this one.

If all these test go well I will get it installed as soon as I can get the time and proper weather to work on it.

2. Anniversary trip to Disney World.

Did I mention that we now have campground reservations for our stay and tickets to see the Cirque Du Soleil – La Nouba show while we are there?  Well, we have them.  Now to get our Minds to focus on exactly what park admission tickets and accessories we need to have to fit our tenure there and not leave with unused tickets (they are only good for 14 days after the day you use the first one, unless you pay a bunch more for the "non-expiring” tickets.)

3. Shuttle launch event after Disney

We have nailed down 3 possible places we might like to stay. We would already have booked the campsite we want but they have a limit of 90 days advance reservation so we can’t book until Aug 13. I gotta write that down somewhere!

4. What’s doing after the shuttle launches… or doesn’t?

We will be there a few days after the scheduled date to give us better odds of seeing it.  If it does not go up while we are there, we will go back another time during 2010 and catch one.

Whether it does go or not, we will spend some time visiting with Bob,  Merrily’s brother and my best friend for over 50 years and his wife, Bette. They just live a few miles up the coast from Cape Canaveral and we will probably stay in Anastasia State Park or the KOA in St. Augustine Beach.

5. And then what and where?

The holidays will be close upon us by the time we finish visiting Bob and Bette and we would like to be back in the Raleigh area for Thanksgiving through the New Years Day.  After that, Merrily is still determined to get her big truck driving credentials so she will feel comfortable and safe wrangling Clifford on the highway.

I completely support this and will be glad for her participation when we move the rig to other locations.  She is thinking about taking a February or March class at the same truck driver training school where I got my CDL in 2004. This will take about 8 weeks of 10 hour days/ 5 days a week but when she comes out I am sure she will be better than I am at handling Clifford.

6. And then to infinity and beyond….

Let’s just say that we plan to just head out in that direction and see how far we can go.

7. Reality check Postscript:

The present economic climate has really made it necessary to focus in tightly on just how we will make this full time lifestyle float properly on top of our financial situation.  This is certainly a work in progress that has yet to return the necessary confidence factor for the leap to full time in the exact timeframe we have been targeting.

There is nothing that will prevent it but there is a lot of things still floating around that can delay our expected start date.

Previously, I mentioned our jump off date was to be our Anniversary and clearly, some vital benchmarks have not happened to guarantee that date so alternate planned schedules are in development as contingency directions should the emotionally significant anniversary date not quite match up perfectly with the reality at that moment.

In other words… to go on fulltiming from there we need to actually be there with all our dependencies locked in solidly in order to start the trip. Otherwise, we might not only not get very far but we might do irreparable financial damage to our situation that could halt our dream.

Most important, we have Lots to do, lots to work out, lots to discover and most important, lots of love.

ttfn