Tomato Street Restaurant, Spokane, WA

I know it's been quite a while since I've written but lots has been going on. Will update everything as soon as I can. Suffice to say we left New England 2 weeks ago and are almost to the Canadian border at Midway, WA. It's been a fantastic 2 weeks!

Today was extra special though. We needed to stop in Spokane, WA to pick up some things we wanted to give our 1 year old twin grandchildren in BC. By the time we got to Spokane from Albertson, MT, found the necessary store, and made the purchases, it was 2:30. We'd only had fruit for breakfast so Mike was getting a little cranky. Well... a lot cranky. We had noticed a restaurant across the parking lot called, "Tomato Street" - an Italian restaurant. Both of us love Italian food - and I could live on tomatoes - so we were hoping this was a good place. I asked the sales personnel where I was shopping if they would recommend the place and got a resounding, "YES!" So off we went.

The smells as we entered were so 'fresh' and, of course, very tomato-y (Is there such a word?). Very attractive, large place that could probably seat 100 to 150. It was busy with probably 75 - 80 customers already there and more kept coming in all the time. The floors were large ceramic tiles with occasional mosaics that made huge tomatoes. There was tomato art on the walls. Empty cans of tomato products were everywhere. Juice cans were covered with notices of Menu Special items. Empty tomato paste cans held crayons for the little ones. Empty cans were stacked on shelves and wall dividers. Tomato 'art' graced the walls. Done wrong it all could have looked tacky but it didn't.

Partial Interior. On the other side of that divider was the drink station and the open kitchen. 
Both were pristine and decorated as nicely as the dining room

They use brick ovens to bake. The entire kitchen and drink station are open to the customer's view - just behind that wall divider. They were just as attractive and clean as the dining room.

The menu... It was really hard to make our choices; it had a lot of variety and the descriptions had our mouths watering (prices were reasonable, too). Everything just sounded so wonderful. We finally opted to share a 10" Sicilian pizza (cheeses, mushrooms, Italian sausage, some type of Italian ham, and chopped tomatoes) and Seafood Alfredo (Shrimp, calamari, scallops, and clams in a creamy Alfredo sauce over fresh linguini). We both chose soups as our first course. Mike got Clam Chowder while I chose Creamy Tomato Basil. They make both soups themselves from scratch. The Tomato Basil was fantastic! The Clam Chowder was good but being from New England where they *really* know how to make Clam Chowder, Mike was a little disappointed in his. Good, but not fabulous. The garlic bread and fresh brewed iced tea just kept coming.

The staff were all very friendly, prompt, and courteous - and unique. All of them had on wild hats - even management had on baseball caps. There was no question who the staff members were. Most of them very obligingly posed for a picture for me.

The hats were all unique. Our waiter was the second 
from the left. Didn't remember his name, unfortunately.

It might be hard to tell in this picture but his hat was a roasted chicken. 
You can see the drumsticks and wings with the waiter's head 
filling out the body of the chicken.

Our waiter told us that twice a year the staff makes a trip to Leavenworth, WA where there's a very unique hat shop. Looks like they have a lot of fun. Let me tell you, we never had a problem spotting our waiter!

They bake in brick ovens: most things are made from scratch. The flavors were tremendous!  We left there very, very happy with our meal. We encourage everyone, if you're in the area, to be sure and look this place up. You will NOT be disappointed.

By the way....We left there at 3:30 and people were STILL coming in. All ages. Quite a place, quite a place!

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout


I realized today that not only have I not posted in a while but I have put up very few pictures. Time to rectify that!  These are a selection of pictures from our stay here in RI this Spring.

These first pictures are of a Class A RV that was near the entrance to our campground. Our jaws literally dropped when we spotted this. Talk about tight spots! Mike is hoping that we never have to park in a situation like that. These people are all settled in for the summer and have fixed up their site really cute since these pictures were taken the end of April. Hope those trees don't grow much though or they'll never get out of there.

It's hard to see in this photo but the front end of the RV is 
hanging out over the brook. The back end is nearly on the ground.

Notice how close the trees are? Think they had to oil the sides of the rig to get it in there. 
If a tire goes flat, that back end will definitely be on the ground. Wow! 

I thought it would be fun to show how our camping area changed over the 2 months we were at Whispering Pines. The first 2 pictures were taken April 26th from our campsite:

Looking North from our campsite. We could look out the picture window 
on the rear of our rig and watch the kids come home on the school bus on a distant hill.

Looking across pond from front of our rig. There were only 
6 camping sites on our side of the pond. Usually there were only 
4 of us down there. It was lovely and peaceful!

The next 2 pictures show approximately the same views exactly 1 month later. It was a rare, sunny day when I took these pictures. Most of the time we were at the campground it was overcast and/or raining.
Everything was so green and lush!

This is a slightly different view of the brook but only by a few feet. We could no 
longer watch the school bus up on the hill but that was ok. The sounds of 
all the birds, bullfrogs, etc., was well worth it!

Almost identical to the pond picture above. What a difference a month makes!

Finally, we got our hummingbird feeders put up on our back windows. The very first day, the little hummers started visiting. We thoroughly enjoyed watching them.

This was the feeder we put on the back window. Loved it because it didn't 
have that center tube that would have blocked our view of some of the hummers.

This was a regular hummingbird feeder on a side window. It had a hanger that 
attached to the window with suction cups. In actual fact, we think the bird
 preferred this feeder because of the combination of red with yellow feeding ports. 
It was more difficult to see the birds though.

We are no longer at the campground as our 2 month stay ended on June 14. We are now staying at Mike's sister's place (still in RI) watching over his elderly mother while his sister and family are away. Yesterday we drove the 5 miles to the section of Westerly called Weekapoug. There is a space there that isn't part of the regular beaches where you can just park your vehicle and go sit on the rocks and watch the ocean. Why we hadn't done this earlier I'll never know, because we realized yesterday how very much we've missed the sounds and smell of the ocean. Will have to try and get down there some more the next couple of weeks because we plan to leave soon and head west. My, how the time has flown!

Yep, that's the Atlantic Ocean. Usually you can see Fishers Island, NY 
and Block Island, RI from here. Just depends on the day.

There were a couple of fishing boats out yesterday morning 
as well as some speed boats but only this one sail boat."

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Blankets & Knitting

Had a wonderful 'Gramma Day' yesterday! Picked up our 9 year old granddaughter after school yesterday and took her shopping for some fleece to make her a new blanket and matching tote bag. We hadn't been in the store 5 minutes when she spotted exactly what she wanted.

The Fleece Alli Picked

Nearby I found the perfect fleece for the 4 year old 'adopted' granddaughter. Happily, both pieces were on sale for 50% off. My kind of deal!

The Fleece I Picked for Lauren

Alli then asked if I would please teach her to knit. Off we went to the yarn section. Took us a few minutes to find the right yarn because she picked out her needles first and none other would do! Color in needles is very important, don't you know?

Paid for our purchases then went to Jake's Hamburgers in Mystic, CT for supper. Yummy, old-fashioned hamburgers, excellent fries and onion rings. Alli had been there before but it was a first for me. Highly recommend the place!

From there we went to a park near her home and started knitting. She picked it up really quickly and did several rows, getting faster all the time with few mistakes. After leaving the park and getting some ice cream, we headed back to her house. She plopped herself on the couch and kept on knitting. I was very pleased to see how much fun she was having with it. In fact, she asked if on our next outing, could she just come to my 'house' and sit and knit with me? A girl after my own heart!

The rest of the family was just sitting down to eat when we got there. 6 year old Talia, who I had taken out last week, kept eyeing Alli's activities while she ate her dinner. Finally, she came over to me and wanted to know if I would teach her to knit, too. Guess I'll be making another trip to buy yarn and needles.

Looking forward to beginning travels again in a month (we'll be leaving New England) but am sure going to miss those girls! Skype is wonderful but not the same as being here.

Now that I have the fleece for all 4 girls, I need to get busy the next couple of days and get all the blankets edged and the tote bags made. Fun, fun!

Til Next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Sewing & Quilting Mode is Waking Up!

I've been busy the past few days planning sewing projects. We've been in the 5th wheel now about 7 weeks but I haven't done any sewing yet. I have to be 'in the mood' to accomplish anything. Things are improving though because I'm in the planning stages for a few quilt projects.

I took our 6 year old granddaughter, Talia, out to lunch yesterday and then to the fabric store to pick out some fleece. All the girls are wanting twin-size fleece blankets and matching carrying bags to put them in. I was thrilled to get to JoAnn's and discover a whole aisle of nice fleece on sale for 50% off. I strongly encouraged Talia to stay in THAT aisle. (BTW, we had a LOT of fun. Ended the day with ice cream. Yum!)

Talia's favorite color is pink, one of her favorite critters is ladybugs, and her favorite thing in the whole world is strawberries. She found a luscious pink & white fleece with very light red ladybugs all over it. They're almost pastel and resemble strawberries. Talia was thrilled!

The original plan was to take each girl out separately to the fabric store to pick out their own fleece, but right next to Talia's fleece was the perfect fleece for 3 year old Lydia. She loves lavender and ducks! The fleece is pink but has lavender-ish hearts with the cutest ducks all over it. Again, it was half price! Wasn't going to take a chance it would be gone - or not on sale - when I was ready to take Lydia shopping so snapped that up as well. Lydia and I will have to do something else on our outing.

Think I also saw something very appropriate for 4 yo Lauren, but it wasn't on sale so will have to mull. Maybe it will go on sale in June. One can only hope.

I've decided to still take Alli, who is 9 years old, out next week to pick out her fleece. She's 9 and at an age where Gramma might just get it wrong so not going to take the chance. She, too, will be limited to the sale aisle but I think she'll find plenty to choose from.

Hope to have these all made by the first weekend of June - a week from now.

Have also measured all our windows so that I can order fabric for new window coverings. I have found a really inexpensive online source for semi-sheer 118" wide fabric. Still not sure yet if I'm going with Roman shades or Austrian shades but want to get them made soon. Hate, hate, hate these venetian blinds - and many of them are damaged. I think my big hang-up in making a definite decision on type of shade is finding just the right thing to use for the slats in a Roman shade. Normally, you use a thin wooden slat, but since I'll be using a semi-sheer fabric, I'd like to find a clear plastic to use. Guess I'll have to go visit the local Home Depot and see what I can come up with.

I have the fabric for the binding on Lydia's heritage quilt. Just need to get it on.

It looks like I'm going to be making a signature quilt for dear friends of ours in Joplin who lost everything. All our friends here in Rhode Island know them so we thought this would be something special they could wrap up in. Have decided on this pattern for the quilt top: Four Hour Quilt It looks relatively easy and will leave lots of room for people to write messages. I'll be doing the "One More Time Around" at the bottom of the page. Something different from the multiple squares quilts I've done in the past for signatures. Others here will help finish it off.

A great tip when doing signature quilts: Iron freezer paper onto the back of the quilt wherever people are going to write on it. Stabilizes the fabric and makes it easier to write on. Peels right off when signing is done.

Have been to The Remnant Shop here in Hope Valley, RI. He's got some lovely, good quality, quilting fabric for $4/yd. Plus there's the shop down in Westerly that's going out of business. Guess I need to pay a visit to each place.

Busy, busy.

Til next time,
Gloria - The Internet GADabout


I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I can't believe I've been that busy but Mike and I looked at each other recently and said, “Aren't we retired? Why are we so busy all the time?” It was a good couple of weeks but I'll post on that later. This post is more serious. A lot of emotions are floating around in our hearts right now and I need to get this down.

Getting rid of 'stuff' can be hard.  As you know, we made the decision in December to retire and become full timers by April 1st.  We were renting so selling our home wasn't an issue.  In actual fact we had to have a lifetime of stuff gone before the end of February as we'd already made arrangements to be in Florida for the month of March.  Talk about a rush of emotions for the 2 months we were getting rid of stuff! 

We sold most of it via Craigslist & a Cafe list.  The first big thing to leave was hard (a grandfather clock purchased with some inheritance money after my mother died) - as was the last (my digital piano).  But once we had our 5th wheel and were on the road in April, I felt like this HUGE weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Simple and frugal is oh, so much better. (Check out my blog post from January 18.)

We've spent most of our married life in New England but we lived in the Joplin, MO area the last 2-1/2 years - until we became full time RVers this Spring. (It's still our home base). Friends there were saddened that we were getting rid of 'stuff' but we kept telling them that 'stuff' isn't what matters.  God and people are what matters.

How that lesson was brought home Sunday evening with the tornado!

All of our friends in Joplin are safe but one young couple who hasn't even been married a year are especially in shock.  She is from Texas, he from Montana.  His work was in the Joplin area and they belonged to our ecclesia.  Initially, they rented a duplex in a lovely, upscale neighborhood.  They were robbed twice.  So in February they moved to a 3rd floor apartment, thinking it would be safer.

The apartment was right behind the Home Depot and Walmart in Joplin that no longer exist.  Their apartment is gone.  They have lost everything but were not hurt.  We are so thankful for that!

As I wrote to her last night..That which doesn't kill us, serves to make us stronger.  They must be getting really strong. (Actually, looking on the map at the damaged areas, I imagine the duplex they were in originally was probably destroyed as well.)

Events like that force us all to stop, reflect, and put things in perspective.  Yes, it was hard getting rid of our stuff.  Looking back, I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to just have had a big, one-day sale.  Kind of like just ripping off the band-aid and getting it over with. 

Then again by doing it the way we did, we know the big, sentimental stuff went to people who really wanted it and will take care of it.  That's kind of comforting, too.

I also know that having lived in our traveling condo now for @ 7 weeks, I'm loving the simpler life style. We had company for a BBQ Sunday evening. I did a major cleaning of our abode plus did the dishes all in 40 minutes. THAT was wonderful!

By the world's standards we are poor; right now all we've got is our Social Security coming in. Hoping that will change over the next few months as we find ways to supplement our income and still travel. But this is so much better than stressing over a house or rent payment and all the accompanying bills. Plus you think twice about what you're going to buy because you have to consider storage space and overall weight.

As sad and concerned as we are for that young couple, we know they will survive, pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. I just hope they've learned valuable lessons that we didn't learn until years later.

Yes, we need essentials but we're better off without all the extra 'stuff' that this present society seems to think we 'need'.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Milestones & Improvement

Today is a milestone day...Our twin grandchildren, Michael & Rachel, in British Columbia are 1 year old today. So hoping to see them in August. Jed & Alycia are good about sending pictures or short videos periodically but we still feel like we've missed out on so much! It's hard being long distance grandparents. Having a really good time with the 3 girls here (9, 6, and 3) of Sarah's and Seth's little Lauren, who is 4.

I am finally improving from whatever I had. I still tire easily and the cough is still lurking around. Still didn't feel well enough over the weekend to go out but got messages from our son and daughter wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. Then in the evening, our daughter and family showed up with dinner and cake and ice cream. It was lovely!

Monday morning for the first time in over a week, I realized my chest didn't feel pressure or hurt anymore. That was a HUGE step! Also, for the first time in over a week, I stepped outside this 5th wheel. It was wonderful. Bright, warm, sunny day with brook babbling away and just enough breeze to make all the pine trees 'hum' as I call it. (The campground is actually called Whispering Pines). I love that sound. 20+ years ago we owned an old farmhouse in Jaffrey, NH. Behind the house outside our bedroom window was a row of tall pine trees. Loved the sound the wind made going through them at night.

We went to Seth's to do laundry. I got the first load started, then put Mike in charge while I went off for a bit to do a couple of errands. Yee Haw! I was alone in the car (we've borrowed a small car from family while we're in the area so we don't have to keep filling up the diesel truck) and able to go where I wanted!

First stop.....

The local quilting shop. When I left for Missouri 2-1/2 years ago they were just moving into their present location from another spot. I was really saddened to see signs in the window Monday saying everything was 20-50% off because they were closing June 1. It's a lovely shop and the owner is so nice. But she's older and her husband isn't doing well so she's decided it's time to retire and stay home to help him. Sad on many of which being that there's not another fabric store of any kind within 20 miles of this area. It just seems that there are less and less quality fabric places around - and yet I keep hearing that sewing is starting to make a comeback - not just quilting. I certainly hope so because people are going to need basic skills if the economy does as predicted.

Yes, I did get some fabric. Bought enough fabric to bind a quilt my mother started many years ago. I also picked up a 1/4 yard of 2 other fabrics that were giving me color inspiration for a Lone Star quilt I'm planning.

From there I went to Walmart and bought a little gas grill we'd been wanting, a DVD player, and a universal remote because the TV was missing its remote. Had already made arrangements with Seth to come out today to hook up everything.

I was gone between 1-1/2 to 2 hours and was completely drained when I got back to Seth's. There was one load of laundry left to do so I threw in the quilt fabric with it and then melted into a chair with my laptop until it was finished. I went to bed early last night cause I kept falling asleep in my recliner - something I just never do.

Seth was here early this afternoon and got everything hooked up and working. We had watched "The King's Speech" on one of our laptops but decided to watch it again this afternoon. So much better on a 27" screen with the audio coming out of the stereo speakers in the ceiling!

Tomorrow we head to Providence to pick up a rental car for Mike. He has to go back to Missouri for some paperwork and neither of us were keen on him flying. I will stay here alone while he's gone. Hopefully, I'm going to get major Spring cleaning done and cupboards/storage sites rearranged. He was commenting over the weekend that he's finally figured out where things are. I burst out laughing and told him not to get too used to it cause I was going to change everything while he's gone. :)

One of the things neither one of us like about this unit are the mini-blinds in the windows. Have never liked mini-blinds and these aren't in great shape. I think I have a plan that we both like. Austrian shades made out of a semi-sheer batiste. We know from experience that semi-sheers (vs sheers) have enough opacity at night to provide some privacy AND they provide a little insulation to reduce cold and heat entering through non-thermal windows. Someone mentioned doing Roman shades instead but the Austrian shades' fullness would add a little more insulating factor, I think. I've found a place where I can get 118" width fabric for a little over $5/yd. Just need to get window measurements so I can figure how much I need. Thinking I will go with something else in the 2 bedroom windows. Mike doesn't like ANY light at night coming in through the windows.

So, I have the potential of being very busy soon. But it will be a good busy and not have deadlines. No pressure! Like those kind of projects; they go much smoother.

We finally have a firm date for the repair of the slide out. We're leaving the campground June 14th to go stay at Mike's sister's for a couple of weeks and take care of his mother while they are gone to South Africa. We looked at each other yesterday and said, "Duh! Why don't we just make arrangements for the rig to go in then for repairs since we'll not be staying in it those 2 weeks anyway?" The repair shop agreed so everything is working out fine.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Frugal Fixes - Great Day!

What a day yesterday was! Sorry if the previous post seemed a bit disoriented and befuddled. Today, I'm still weak and coughing my head off but do seem to be slowly improving.

Yesterday was a wonderful day around the 5th wheel. After I got all curled up in my recliner with my blanket around me in the morning, Mike decided to go attack those power jacks in the front of the rig and see if he could figure out why they wouldn't turn on. He'd been outside about 30 seconds when I could have sworn I heard the jack motor come on and then stop. About 5 seconds later Mike came bouncing in the door doing the wildest happy dance I've ever seen him do. (Should have had my camera – LOL).

He had decided before going out there that he was going to begin at the jack motor and follow every single wire going out from it to check for loose connections, bad fuses, bad switches, etc. The first thing he did was follow the wires that go from the motor to the external switch. On the way there's a 30 amp fuse. He sort of flicked that with his finger as his hand went by and VOILA! Everything started working. He had taken that fuse out earlier and checked it; it looked fine. The casing was in good shape as is the solder that holds everything together. We've decided it must be a fuse that's starting to die. We'll be laying in a few extra fuses so we never have this problem again. We were soooo tired of hand cranking those jacks up and down. Mike was a riot; he was so happy!

While things were going well for him, I suggested maybe he should work on a few things that needed attention inside. There is a 27” TV in the entertainment center that came with our unit as well as a VCR. But the stereo is missing as well as a DVD player. We brought our own stereo and CD player with us but nothing had been hooked together yet. Mike can be really good with electrical things but not electronics – that's a whole 'nother ball game. He did manage to get some things hooked up and even had the CD player working with the sound coming out of the ceiling speakers. We need to still pick up a DVD player. I think we'd be wise to ask our son or son-in-law to come out and help us with hooking everything up together so we'll be sure they all work. LOL But the CD player working was a major accomplishment. Nice to sit here and have soft music playing.

Still on a roll, he decided next to tackle the directional reading lamp that's over my recliner. It's been very temperamental not wanting to stay on. Finally, it just quit completely. He knew it wasn't the bulb so took it apart and fiddled with it for a while. Success! It's working again. Neither one of us trust it very much; it just seems kind of 'mushy' inside. (Note: by this afternoon it had quit again. Time to buy a new one.)

He and I just felt so good today that between his labors and my suggestions some things were getting fixed in here that didn't need a service call. We've always tried to be self-sufficient when we could. Just because we're retired doesn't mean we should give up on doing as much of our own repairs and refurbishing as possible. It's part of being frugal.

By the time he'd done all that, he was getting restless and kept talking about the mini-lathe he wants. I suggested he look at them online. (We've been watching for a good used one but it's just not happening.) He found that the one he'd been thinking seriously about was on sale for just under $200. A little more than we really wanted to spend right now but after watching him pace and fidget about, I finally agreed that the time had come for him to buy one. He was off like a shot to the store about 20 miles from here. Not only did he get what he wanted but they knocked the price down another $50 so that he would purchase the 2-year warranty – he still came out below the listed sale price. No, he doesn't have the chisels yet but will soon. Yay! He's got a hobby!

As for his micro-managing I talked about in a previous post, it all seems to be settling down. Life is getting easier.

I also realized today that all the stress we'd been dealing with the last few months must be working its way out of our systems (maybe that's why I've been so sick) because for the first time in eons, I'm actually starting to get ideas in my head for a quilt I want to make AND some knitting I want to do. Now if I can just get rid of this cough.......

Til next time,

Gloria – The Internet GADabout

I'm Officially Retired!

It's been a week and a half since I've made an entry. Lots happened and then everything came to a coughing halt!

We're slowly figuring out how to use and/or fix things on this 5th wheel. We're also thinking more seriously about the changes we want to make. There are places where there was plenty of room to put in another drawer but instead there's just a blank piece of wood. Mike is going to rectify that. Will certainly welcome more drawer space.

Our biggest problem has been the black water tank valve. Suddenly, it wouldn't work. We weren't sure if it was just stuck or broken but the 'honey' wagon here at the park wouldn't come empty our tanks until it was fixed. That meant we had to hitch up and tow the rig to the dump station. It's not that far but it gets annoying to have to get everything ready for travel for such a short distance and time. Mike has been researching what it was going to take to fix it.

Thursday was a fun day. Our 3 yo granddaughter, Lydia, came to spend the day with us here at the campground. She liked it here so much that she asked me where my toothbrush was cause she needed to borrow it. I explained that one didn't use someone else's toothbrush and asked why she needed one. "Because I'm going to stay here with you and Grampa and I forgot my own toothbrush." Gotta love kids!

Friday, I officially 'retired' by applying for Social Security. I was pleasantly surprised on Monday to find out that I made too much money over the years to qualify for spousal benefits and would get SS based on my own earnings. Should see my first payment in June.

Saturday we did laundry, opened a new bank account (needed a bank that was nationwide), I practiced the piano to play at Meeting on Sunday, then visited Mike's mother and took her out to dinner. I was really, really tired when we got home but didn't think too much of it until I woke up at 3 AM sick with a cold/flu virus. It hit me like a ton of bricks and everything we were planning on doing around here came to a screeching halt. It is now Wednesday and I'm improved some but still not totally over it. Had to sleep in my recliner last night so I didn't cough all night long.

But because we couldn't do other things, Mike had time to research and figured out how to easily put a new valve in the black water pipe. Yesterday, I dragged myself out of bed long enough to guide him in hitching up and getting over to the dump station. Once the black water tank was empty, he was able to install the new valve and now everything works great! We won't have to hitch up to go to the dump station any more.  The Honey Wagon will come to us.

Our next project is to get the front power jacks working again. 2 weeks ago they just suddenly stopped working. Mike has checked fuses and not found anything wrong but a forum we're on made some other suggestions. Think he's going to work on that tomorrow. Don't want to have to pay someone to fix them but using the hand crank method gets tiresome really fast.

Since I've spent the last few days up in the bedroom in my 'nest' as I've started calling it, I've been thinking about quilting and knitting projects to get working on. Will be really glad when I feel well enough to get started on something.

Hoping tonight will be the last of the worst of this bug. Before going to bed I have been putting Vicks Vaporub on the soles of my feet and then wearing socks. I know that sounds strange but it's an old-timers' trick that really works. The soles of your feet absorb the Vicks really fast and you don't have that stinky smell up by your face. Hopefully, this will be the last night I have to do that.

Til next time

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Adjusting to Retirement

A man who has worked his whole life - even had his own business for 15 years - faces a major challenge when he retires. As does his wife.

As the 'non-working' wife (if you believe a stay-at-home woman is non-working, I know where there's a bridge for sale - LOL), I've been accustomed to lots of time to myself to run the household. Raised 3 children, did lots of sewing, cooking, cleaning, etc. Did it well, too. I was a very busy woman for years.

Whether Mike was working for someone else or for himself, he was gone a lot. At the very least normal work hours during the day; at the most he might be gone 3 or 4 days at a time traveling around the country making sales calls or doing jobs when he had his own business. We enjoyed our time together evenings and/or weekends when he wasn't working.

Now he's home 24/7. Doesn't know what to do with himself but seems to think we are now joined at the hip and should do EVERYTHING together. He tends to micro-manage the household and it's various tasks now, too. Any job I've been doing around the house for the last 42 years, he suddenly has to 'discuss' with me because he thinks there's a better way to do it. Oy!

While we were in Florida, I talked with the wives of several retired couples we know. All of them said, "He's just retired?"


"Oh, poor you. He wants to do everything with you and is trying to tell you how to do everything in the home now - right?"

"Sigh. Yes."

"We know you're going through a rough time right now. We've been there. Stick to your guns and give it a year. He will settle down and develop his own interests."

Yippee! There's hope! Has it been a year yet? LOL No, he just officially retired the end of January so we have a ways to go.

Couple all the above with the fact that we are both now adjusting to an itty-bitty living space and life can have 'interesting' moments.

I'm not trying to sound like a whiner. I DO love him and enjoy doing things with him. But every couple needs some apart time to keep their lives and conversations from getting monotonous.

While we were in Florida in March watching over his elderly parents, his mother surprised me with some of her comments when Mike & my father-in-law would leave for a while. The first time they went out the door together, she told them good-bye and when the door shut, she looked at me and said, "Yay!" They're gone! Hope they don't come back too soon." I had been thinking the same thing but felt a little guilty about it. Not Mom! She and Dad have been married 63 years in June. She saw the look on my face and laughed.

She said, "We've been married 63 years and I don't know what I would do without him. But I don't need him around all the time. We get along much better when we're apart for a while. I loved it that he was not around everyday (traveled a lot for work) and that he played golf every day for years when he retired. Kept me sane and let me do the things I wanted."

She has Alzheimers but you can still carry on conversations with her and get these little pearls of wisdom. I do NOT feel guilty any more and am learning to say 'No' occasionally when Mike wants to go somewhere. I send him on his way without me. I enjoy having some alone, *me* time here in our rolling condo.

I have hobbies....sewing, knitting, crocheting, spinning (have a spinning wheel and some wool waiting for me to get to them) and playing the piano - although I don't have anything to play at the moment. Had to sell my digital piano a couple of months ago cause it wouldn't fit in a 5th wheel so am looking around for a good portable keyboard I can store behind the couch.

Mike's hobby has been woodworking but there's no way we could carry all those big, heavy tools. So we're trying to find a good, used mini-lathe for him. That way he'll have something to keep him busy - and maybe even generate a little income with it.

Are we unique with this problem? Nope. I've read lots of articles, besides talking to people, and this adjustment period seems to be the norm. Sadly, some couples never adjust but I don't think we'll have that problem.

But let's hope we find that lathe sooner rather than later. LOL

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Mysteries Solved & Frugal Purchase

We are exhausted! The past few weeks have been a marathon of travel, errands, going through the storage unit, helping people move, visiting family and friends, etc. Monday was the same. More errands and then went back to Sarah's for dinner and fun with the family.

Tuesday we finally connected with the repairman that had been recommended to us by the insurance adjuster to fix the damage on our slide. Happily, he wasn't nearly as far away as we'd thought - only 30 miles. He's pretty sure he can fix it but is having to research to see what he can do about 1 particular part. The manufacturer of our unit (2000 Fleetwood Prowler 5th wheel) is out of business. He'll call in a couple of days to tell us what he's found and set an appointment to fix it. He'll have to have it a week so we're debating on using the allowance for housing from the insurance company or just staying with Seth and Corinne.

We stopped at Hometown Buffet on Bald Hill Road in Warwick on our way home for lunch. In the same plaza is a Harbor Freight store so, of course, Mike had to go in and drool over the mini-lathes. He's really wanting one so he can turn things as we travel; needs to keep his hand in woodworking. I keep watching Craigslist for a good used one but so far no luck. Found just what he wanted on the Craigslist here but we've tried both calling and emailing with no response so assume it's been sold.

While we were in Harbor Freight, I checked to see what they had for space heaters. We have two 30 gal propane tanks in our rig; both were empty Tuesday morning. It was COLD in here! We've been getting up in the morning to temps in the 40's with clouds and drizzle. But running the propane furnace a lot is going to be expensive due to the lack of insulation in the walls. Electricity is cheaper. We found a rotating tower ceramic heater for $50 but decided to look around a bit more first.

On the way home Mike was complaining that he was soooo tired. He said, "There must be something wrong with me." I laughed and told him to think back to what we'd been doing the last few weeks that we hadn't recuperated from. So, yesterday was a 'do nothing' day. We read, did a little work on the computer, made French Onion Soup (recipe is on this site), napped, just generally took it easy. Hoping that today will be as easy - although we do have to do laundry somewhere.

Last night was Bible Class night. The hall is right down the street from a Wal-Mart so we went there first. Mike needed a new battery in his watch. While he was doing that, I decided to check on space heaters. Because of the season, they were nearly out but what they had left had been marked way down. Ended up buying one for $9! Good frugal buy! It will do the job nicely and be cheaper to run than the furnace. If we have another day like Tuesday, we'll close the door to the bedroom area and just heat the living space where we are.

Bible Class made me smile last night. It was on materialism and how we shouldn't make 'stuff' our focus (God and His Ways should be our focus). We need to ask ourselves before we buy something, "Do I really need this or do I just want it?" This world really works at convincing us we should have something because "you deserve it". We, ourselves, actively work at justifying things we want. We end up encumbered with things we really don't need. Stop and think about it...People's homes are bulging with 'stuff'. Self-storage unit facilities are booming because people can't store all their possessions in their homes anymore.

We got rid of all our credit cards about 7 years ago and don't miss them at all. Paying cash for everything really makes you put things in perspective when making a purchase. We have a debit card on our checking account that can be used as a credit card if need be but it still comes directly out of our checking account. (BTW, the checking account is free because of our age.)

We're not as prone to buying brand new if a good used item can be found instead. Craigslist has become a great resource. Have found lots and lots of good deals, as well as selling a lot on that list. Freecycle and it's sister Cafelist are great for both finding and getting rid of stuff. When I do have to buy something 'new', I do my research first and then check eBay and Amazon, etc. Even with shipping (lots of times it's free shipping), I do better than buying locally. I know, I know, it's good to help the local businessman. But anymore it's big box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, etc., that's carrying the item I'm looking for so if I can buy it online cheaper, I don't feel guilty. After all, it's *my* pennies we're talking about.

Mike and I have gotten rid of a lot of 'stuff' since the first of the year. I can't speak for Mike but for myself it has been liberating. Yes, there were a few things that made me sad watching them go out the door. But it was purely sentimental reasons in all cases and I quickly got over it. In the end a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Yes, we've still filled 2 small storage units with 'stuff'. The plan is to go back to Missouri in the Fall and have a joint yard sale with friends to get rid of more. Hopefully, all we'll be left with is some things that will come in handy down the road if the economy completely tanks and we end up in a stick home of some sort. Trying to be very practical when deciding what to keep.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

kale salad

This is a recipe that a friend gave me that I've modified slightly. It is excellent! In fact, my onions are cooking right now for a big batch. Notice my serving instructions for a quick easy way without having to put the soup bowls under the broiler. Enjoy!

12 medium onions (I'm using Vidalia which are huge so am only using 5.)
1/4 Butter
16 cups beef boullion or broth (I buy the kind that comes in the box with a pour spout on top.)
1+ Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce
2+ Tbs. Kitchen Bouquet (More seems to be better.)
1-1/2 cups dry, white wine (I've also made this with a dry red wine and that's good too. I just didn't use as much.)
Salt & Pepper to taste.
1 loaf French bread, cubed into 1" cubes
Sliced Swiss Cheese

Slice onions very thin and saute`in the butter in a large pot for 1 hour or until golden. Add remaining ingredients; bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer 2 to 4 hours. Onions should be very tender.

When nearly done, put the French bread cubes on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for a few minutes.

Serving Camper Style: Put some bread cubes in the bottom of the soup bowl and top with 1 slice Swiss cheese. Ladle hot soup over all. No need to put under the broiler to melt the cheese.

Bumpity, Bump, Bump, Bang

We are in Rhode Island at a campground in Hope Valley. In front of our 5th wheel is a small, quiet pond. I have seen a mamma and poppa duck in the pond so assume there are eggs nearby - or soon will be. Behind us, down a bank but within view, is a babbling brook. The sun is streaming through the forest of trees around us and there's a gentle breeze blowing through our open windows. Finally, a peaceful afternoon to enjoy our calm and quiet surroundings and reflect on God's beauty away from the all the hustle and bustle we've experienced this week.

Lots of bumps and bangs!

Where to begin? I guess where I left off last Sunday evening. Mike had a couple of last minute details come up that he had to take care of Monday morning (one of which was to get a part for the leaking water heater. All fixed now.) We were on the road around 11 am, headed northeast to St. Louis. We stopped in St. Louis at a grocery store called Dierbergs and loved it! Similar to a Whole Foods but the prices were cheaper. Fantastic store! They only seem to be in the St. Louis/St. Charles, MO area but I did see a couple of stores located not too far away in IL on their store location map. Definitely will go back there when we're in the area. After 2 years of living in SW MO and not being able to find really good produce anywhere - or at good prices - this store was like a breath of fresh air. We were like 2 kids exploring the store and hated to leave. :)

Also, went next door to a Wild Bird Store and got a hummingbird feeder with suction cups. Little early to put it up yet here in the northeast but soon.

We spent the night about halfway across Illinois. Boondocked in a Walmart parking lot with about 10 other RVers and a dozen semi's. Much, much quieter than that rest area we stayed at in Florida on our way to Louisiana a couple of weeks earlier. This boondocking thing is a great deal if you're in a hurry to go somewhere and don't want to take the time to go to a campground. Saves money, too!

Tuesday was stupendous! It was my 62nd birthday. Yep, I can't tease Mike anymore that he's older than me. We go through this every year because his birthday is in January; it's become a running joke. Woke up that morning to cold enough temps that we had to turn on the furnace for a few minutes. Fantastic! So much better than 80 degree weather with high humidity!

Mid-morning we stopped at a rest area in Indiana and I practically skipped all over the parking lot. It was a beautiful, sunny day, still a bit of chill in the air and a light breeze; the grass was bright green; the dandelions were blooming everywhere; the trees were budding but hadn't popped yet with leaves. Just the kind of day I remember most of my birthdays being growing up on a farm in SW Iowa. Just made me so happy; I considered it a wonderful birthday present. Much better than 'things'. Mike took me to Cracker Barrel for my birthday dinner and I got phone calls from 2 of my children. All in all a lovely day! Boondocked again in another Walmart parking lot with about the same size group as the night before.

But, oh, the highways in Indiana. Very, very rough and bumpy for miles and miles and miles. (Bumpity, bump, bump.)

Wednesday morning we got a good, early-ish start and realized that if we timed things right, we could be here at the campground in Rhode Island late Wednesday evening. Yay! Our oldest son, Seth, and his wife, Corinne, were moving on Friday and we wanted to help but were looking forward to a day to rest up first. (The roads got blissfully smooth when we crossed the Ohio line.) 120 miles later all those plans flew out the window. We started hearing a funny 'tickata-tickata' sound and the steering starting having a lot of vibration. Mike pulled over and discovered that the right front tire on the truck - although still inflated - had blown its steel core. (Bumpity, bump, bump) The visible outside part of the tire and the tread looked terrific. What we couldn't see until it was off the axle was that the inside of the tire was very worn and cracked. Sigh. We weren't going anywhere on that tire. Thankfully, we have Good Sam's Emergency Roadside Service. They sent someone out to change the tire but we didn't want to travel far on the spare. Went to the next exit to a truck stop and started researching where to get a new tire. It needed to match the one on the left side that we had bought to match the one on the right side just before we went to Florida.

Confused? Well, when we bought the truck the end of January, one of the things we thought we had checked carefully was the condition of all 6 tires. We didn't want to have to replace all those big tires right off the bat. But, on the way back to MO from TX where we bought the truck, the left front tire went flat suddenly - got a nail or something in it. Because of where we were on the highway, Mike had to keep driving on the flat tire until he came to a place he could pull off. End of that tire! Drove the rest of the way home on the spare and bought the new tire to match the existing right tire back in Joplin.

So now we needed to match a brand new tire on the right side to the new tire on the left. Either no one had it or couldn't get it until late the next day and/or their price was going to be astronomical. Mike finally called the manufacturer who referred us to the area distributor who referred us to a dealer about 10 miles away. Bellino's True Tread Tires in Canfield, OH. They said that yes, they could get the tire by noon the next day. Oh, by the way, you're welcome to park your 5th wheel here for the night if you want in our back lot. Perfect! Off we went and they got the tire ordered.

The next morning we noticed a delivery truck of tires come in about 8:30. Around 9, one of the workers came and knocked on our door. Our tire was ready to put back on the truck. They had requested to the distributor that they be the first delivery so that we could get on our way. Plus they checked all the other tires to make sure they didn't have any issues we hadn't seen AND put air in all the trailer tires to bring them back up to the right pressure before we left. What a fantastic dealership! If you're ever in Canfield, OH, just outside Youngstown and need tires, we can't recommend Bellino's enough. They were wonderful!

Did I mention that their price was $30 to $50 less than any other dealer we called - for the exact same tire? Thank you!

We had a good laugh over this sign on one of their doors. Talk about an oxymoron! They explained that it was an entrance door but was to only be used by employees. Guess you're supposed to know that by reading between the lines. LOL

We were back on the road before 10:30. This time we WERE going to make it to Rhode Island - we hoped. Seth and Corinne needed all the help they could get to move since it was a week day. We had told them Wednesday evening we might not make it after all and they were so disappointed. We ended up calling them Thursday evening when we crossed over into Connecticut from New York to tell them that we were going to make it after all. We were all happy.

We called the campground to tell them we were going to be there that day after all but not until late evening. The owner said she wouldn't be there by then but not to worry. Our spot was P5 down by the pond. Just go ahead and park and we'd settle up later.

We should have just boondocked in another parking lot until daylight. It was after 10 when we got here and really dark. Once you're inside the park, the paved road ends and the roads become very rough and rocky, holes, with big trees on either side, stumps, posts, implements, etc. We finally found a map so we could figure out how to get down to the pond but the last turn was just nearly impossible to make so we gave up and left the rig in the road for the night and went to bed. There are a lot of trailers/campers here but most looked like they were left here year round and weren't occupied.

The next morning we went out to move some of those implements, picnic tables, etc., that were making it difficult to maneuver the turn. We were shocked to discover some major damage to our 5th wheel. We'd heard a popping sound the night before but honestly thought we'd just run over some sticks on the ground. The bottom front corner of the driver's side slide out had some major damage and the skin had been ripped away. It must have caught on either a stump or post. (There's the 'BANG'.) We are just sick over it!

We were afraid to open that slide, thinking it might just make the damage worse. So we just got it parked and leveled and took off for the moving day.

I was delegated to go sit at the new house and wait for utility people to come turn things on. I spent the time connecting with our insurance company, GMAC. So far, they have been so polite and helpful. Within half an hour of reporting the claim, our claim manager called. An hour after that the claim adjuster called and set an appointment to meet me back here at the campground to get the ball rolling. He wanted to know if we had a preference where the work is done. I mentioned that the only place we knew of was in East Greenwich. He said that yes, they were very good but it might be a problem getting the work done this time of year as the season was starting and everyone was really busy. But, because we were full-timers, they might put us at the head of the list.

He and I met out here around 3:30. He gave me an estimate, said it would definitely end up being higher than that (we only have to pay the deductible) and had already talked to another repair place that GMAC has worked with several times in the past that does excellent work. They could do the work right away but need to see it first to see what's needed. We're all concerned about this being truly fixable because this is an older trailer and might have some dry rot that we hadn't seen when we inspected it before buying it. Sigh. Wouldn't surprise me; Murphy S. Law is alive and well still.

We have to take the trailer there tomorrow - it's 50 miles away. So we have to leave our peaceful surroundings and drive through Providence tomorrow. UGH. Hopefully, this will all be fixable. Life and its hiccups!

Spent yesterday and this morning at a Bible Study Day and last night we finally saw our daughter, Sarah, DSIL, Art, and our 3 granddaughters! It was wonderful! We've missed them all very much; it was so great to get lots and lots of hugs from everyone.

So, here we are in limbo again wondering what's going to happen next. We have faith that whatever happens, God is watching over us and will see us through this. Stay tuned.

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Stocking the 5th Wheel

A lot has happened in the last week.

We left our friends in Louisiana Tuesday morning and arrived at a campground in Joplin, MO about 5:30 that afternoon. It was a lovely drive but we've learned a huge lesson. We'd read of many RVers saying they never planned to drive more than 250 miles a day - or 4 to 5 hours. Now we know why. It's very tiring riding in a truck for long periods that's pulling a 5th wheel! We were exhausted when we got here! But we got settled, ate supper, and still managed to get to Bible Class at some friends' house. Lovely evening.

Wednesday we ran around Joplin doing errands and picking up our mail. Lots of little loose ends we needed to finish off that we hadn't had time to do before we left for Florida. Then Mike hitched up the 5th wheel and dropped me off at our friends while he went and got 4 new tires for the unit. When we checked out the tires at the dealership, they'd been shined with something so they looked like new tires (great tread). But as we drove, that shine disappeared and the dry rot cracking appeared. We were not pleased! Made it here safely but wasted no time getting those tires replaced.

Unfortunately, while replacing the tires, they discovered that the brake pads were worn and peeling. That really upset Mike because, although we bought the unit 'AS-IS', by state law the dealership was required to do a safety check and fix things like that before we drove away. (Plus we'd been assured when we were buying it, that the tires and brakes were in good condition.) We already knew our truck needed new brake pads so Mike made an appointment for Friday to get all those done.

Thursday we spent some time in the storage unit and started getting real discouraged because things hadn't been packed into it in logical order - i.e., things we knew we wouldn't take with us in the back and things we would take with us in the front. UGH! Got a few things but we were having a lot of trouble locating what we wanted.

Friday, Mike dropped me off at our friends at 7:30 while he took the unit to get those brakes fixed. I was able to do our laundry and have a good visit with Donna. But Mike didn't come and didn't come and didn't come so I finally called him after lunch. They had finished all the brake pads but had discovered that the brakes on the rear axle of the rig wouldn't engage even though they were getting electricity. Now explain to me how those brakes passed a safety test! It took some time but finally they had everything working. Mike is just amazed at the difference when he hits the brakes now. Never having towed something like this before, neither one of us knew how it was supposed to feel. I will be writing to the General Manager of the dealership and complain again. This is just ridiculous. We have learned a big lesson - WATCH them do the safety check and confirm to ourselves that everything really is alright. Afraid we couldn't recommend this dealership to anyone.

We had finally received the title to the unit on Thursday after the dealership over-nighted it to us. The registry was just a few blocks from where the brake work was being done so Mike planned on going over there when the work was finished and getting it registered. I called ahead and asked about getting the unit inspected but they said because it was a pull-behind, we didn't need an inspection. Yay!

Mike finally got over there about 4 and was told that yes, he did need to get it inspected; to go across the street to get it done. The man there said there was no way he could inspect something so large so Mike called me completely frustrated. I was shocked at what the woman in the registry had told him and suggested he go back and tell them what I was told. The woman apologized all over herself. She hadn't picked up that Mike was registering a tow-behind, not something with a motor in it. Sigh. Then he found out if he used his debit card to pay for for the registration (we had to pay more tax over what we paid in Florida), they would charge an extra 2.8%. So off he trudged with the 5th wheel in tow to find an ATM machine. It was 5 pm before he got back to pick me up. He was exhausted but everything was done. We are legal and safe!

Saturday we slept in and finally left the campground in time to have lunch. Then back to the storage unit. This time we had better luck finding lots of stuff which was a big relief. Now we're just wondering if we've gotten everything we need AND if we've gotten things we really don't need. Guess we'll find out through experience. We can always change things around when we're back here in the Fall. I have realized that I forgot to grab a small bin that contains all the fabric to make a specific quilt. I'd hoped to work on that while we're in New England. Kind of tough to do when you don't have it with you. Mike was 'thrilled' when I told him we have to go back to the storage unit before we leave.

While we were doing all the searching yesterday afternoon, the temp got up to 87. UGH! There was a good breeze that helped but if you were in the back of the unit, you weren't getting any breeze. We drank lots of water and took breaks but we were both miserable. By the time we got back here at a quarter to 6, it was all I could do to crawl in the door. Mike wasn't a whole lot better. Thank heavens for air conditioning! I was so hot, it was like I had a furnace inside me. I never do well in heat! I sat for a while then took a cool shower and started to feel 'human' again.

We needed to go grocery shopping but Mike decided to take me out for a really nice dinner first. A last splurge. We went to Jim Bob's Steak & Ribs on Range Line in Joplin. What a fabulous place! We lived here over 2 years and never went to that place before. Wish we had. They were running a special on a 12 oz prime rib with 2 sides. It was fabulous! Biggest 12 oz. prime ribs we had ever seen; they had to have been well over a pound and the smokey, BBQ flavor was wonderful!

The service was what really impressed us though. We placed our order and had all of our food and drinks in less than 10 minutes. Everything from iced tea to hot, fresh out of the oven rolls, their own whipped butter, a generous salad, huge baked potatoes, butter-sauteed mushrooms, and those huge prime ribs. The waitress made sure no empty dishes remained on our table but quietly whisked them away as we finished something. The place was very busy (it was Saturday night) but we noticed that all tables were experiencing the same, efficient service. It has a Texas/Western theme, is spacious inside, and just all-in-all a great place to eat. If you're ever in Joplin, give it a try!

Today we are working at finding a place for everything we brought back yesterday so that tomorrow morning we'll be ready to take off. It's going to be interesting today; we need to get our sea legs. The wind is blowing pretty hard; I'm told to expect gusts up to 40 mph. We are rocking and rolling. We're expecting thunderstorms this afternoon with all this wind. We might have to bring the slides in which will really make it tight putting things away. Here's hoping it doesn't get that bad.

Tomorrow is supposed to be calm and sunny; good day for traveling. We've checked the weather for our route across the country and it looks like we'll have good traveling all week.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Our Adventure has Begun!

Friday morning we got our rig back over to the Service Center by 8 am. It was 9 before they actually took it to do the work. They still didn't have electricity or computers and were running on generator power but were determined to get the people serviced that should have been done the previous afternoon. It took better than 3 hours to get the damaged seals off, old glues removed, and the new seals put in place but we now have seals everywhere they're needed on those slide outs. And the tanks were dumped and cleaned. Mike was able to watch them do that so he feels more comfortable about doing it himself when the time comes.

While they were working on the rig, we picked up a few things we knew we needed for our adventure. By 1 we were officially on the road. Yay!!! We didn't make it out of Florida that first night but stayed in a rest area about 200 miles east of Pensacola. THAT was an adventure in itself. Most of the Florida rest areas have night time security so we weren't too concerned about our safety but it was NOISY! At midnight the semi next to us (a huge monster) started up to leave. It was so extra big and loud, I think Mike and I hit the ceiling when it woke us up!

Note to ourselves - If we're going to boondock while traveling, find a Walmart or Bass Pro or some other off the road place that's quieter. If we have to stay in a rest area, don't pull in between a bunch of semi's if we can help it. It may make us feel safer, but the noise isn't worth it.

Mike had unhooked the power/brake connection cord between the truck and 5th wheel before we settled in for the night. He was concerned that the batteries in the 5th wheel might go dead and the unit would start pulling power from the truck batteries instead. (Remember, we're very new at this.) When we got ready to leave the next morning, he hooked the cord back up in the bed of the truck where the dealership had put in the new receptacle. It didn't work. No brakes lights, running lights, nothing. We were not happy! He went over it and over it and couldn't not find the problem. Finally he crawled under the truck to see if he could find a loose wire and discovered the original 7-prong receptacle that the dealership said we didn't have. It worked fine although the cord had to go over the outside back of the truck bed to plug in. I have contacted the dealership in Florida about this problem (a Camping World) as we assume this plug is under warranty. We're hoping another Camping World can do the repair.

Saturday - did you hear the cheers? We were both yelling "Good-Bye!" as we rolled over the Florida line into Alabama. Although we do like the panhandle of Florida better than the rest of it, we don't plan on ever going back to Florida. It's just not our 'cup of tea'.

In Mobile we turned north on highway 98 and in Haittesville picked up highway 49 to Jackson. Just outside Jackson the highway turned into a total washboard. We were getting violently bounced and jostled all over the place and we knew this couldn't be good on the hitch and 5th wheel. We figured it would quit when we got on I-20 but it lasted another 5 miles West after that! Horrendous! If we're ever down this way again, we know to avoid those roads.

We rolled into our friends' place in Forest, LA about 5:30. They have a truly beautiful home filled with Southern Hospitality. We've had wonderful Scriptural discussions and lots of just good 'talk'. Drove us around on a tour of the area yesterday. Mike and Daniel have been on a few walks around the property but I declined when Daniel went and got his handgun and some bullets in case they encountered snakes. WHAT??!! There's lots of brown-back rattlers and cotton mouths around here. In fact they were telling us about an area not far from here where a bunch of men/boys found 200 of the critters and removed them. When they went back the next day, they found another 200. Jenny and I stayed here and just relaxed. :)

They were hoping we'd stay a week but we need to get back to the Joplin area and get things sorted out in the 5th wheel. We did decide to stay an extra day though. There's a storm headed this way from the Joplin area that sounds like it's very similar to what we experienced last Thursday in Florida. We would have been driving through it all the way up to Joplin. So we're spending an extra day here. Nice being retired....we can adjust our schedule as needed without a lot of problems.

Next stop.....the storage unit. Really looking forward to getting the 5th wheel organized and stocked.

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Our Adventure Almost Began Today.....

Today was THE day, the day our adventure was supposed to begin.

We got most stuff packed up at the house yesterday and spent last evening supervising Mom & Dad's packing. Mom wanted to take so many books (paperbacks) home with her on the plane that there wasn't going to be room for clothes in her little bag. I assured her that we would be in New England in 2 weeks so we would bring up all the extra books (2 grocery bags full). She picked 2 besides the one she was reading to take with her but when I next checked, she'd pulled out 2 more and the next time I checked there was a third one that was a large hard cover. When she wasn't looking, I quietly grabbed those last 3 books and put them with what we were bringing up. She never missed them. :)

Our bigger problem was Dad. I had a very straightforward, serious talk with him about wearing clean clothes on the plane. He'd already packed everything so together he and I picked out what he would wear. He's always cold - even when everyone else is sweltering - and planes can be cold. So we picked out a short-sleeved shirt, a lightweight pullover sweater, slacks, even his underwear and socksl. Then I pulled out his lightweight, zip-up jacket and put it with the pile of clean clothes and told him not to wear it to breakfast in the morning cause he'd get food all over it. He assured me he would put all those clothes on in the morning. I wasn't so sure.

When I got up this morning, he had yesterday's clothes on again and had packed the pile of clean clothes in a box to take on the plane. I dug out the clothes, put my arm around him and said, "Dad, you're getting on a plane today to go home to New England. You need to take a shower, shave, and put on these clothes so you'll be nice and clean for your trip." He said, "Oh, ok" and actually went off without further urging to take his shower. I don't know if he shaved or not but it was so hectic around there I decided that just being clean was satisfactory. He did not put on the short-sleeved shirt but did put on the sweater and everything else clean. Except his socks had disappeared. 4 different times he came up to me and wanted to know if he was dressed ok and how did I like his fancy shoes? We'd joke around a little and then I'd ask him what color socks he had on. Each time it happened, he'd pull up his pant legs, see his bare feet in the shoes and go, "Uh Oh" or "Oops" then head off to find some socks. Always with an impish grin. Finally, the 4th time he came and proudly showed me the socks he had on. Yay!

But his jacket kept disappearing. Finally, when he was outside helping Mike, I dug it out of the bottom of one of his suitcases - again - and gave it to Mom with the understanding that she was not to let it out of her sight! That was her job. Problem solved.

On the way to Tampa he said 3 or 4 times that he didn't want to go and wanted to go back to the house and stay with us. We assured him it would be fine and he finally quieted down for the ride.

Why am I telling you all this? Because all of this going on while trying to get the truck and 5th wheel loaded up with everyone's stuff from the house was a factor in our safety today.

We were half an hour late leaving the house because of the above situation. As we were driving up I-75 from Sarasota to Tampa, the sky was getting darker and darker and darker. We got some light rain on the way up but nothing serious. Then it quit completely. But when we pulled into Olive Garden's parking lot and were waiting on Brad and Ashley to show up, it got so dark you'd have thought it was 8 pm - not 11:30 am. About 15 minutes before Brad showed up everything let loose. The rain came down so hard for a while you couldn't see 10 feet in front of you. The wind was blowing so hard that the trees around the parking lot were literally doubling over! It was wild! There were moments when we could feel our big truck and the 5th wheel being 'lifted' - not a nice feeling.

Mom spoke up at that point and said she'd had it.....Would we please take them back to the house where it was safer cause she really didn't want to go north anyway - especially on a plane! We told her it wouldn't last and all would be well.

Brad and Ashley showed up and parked in front of us so we could see each other but no way were any of us getting out of our vehicles in that downpour! Finally, it started to show signs of letting up slightly and Brad and Mike decided via cell phones that we would try to find a gas station with overheads so we could get Mom & Dad and their luggage to his car without everything & everyone drowning. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, it suddenly let up to just a normal rain so we drove across the street and made the transfer.

We took off East to Bartow - about an hour's drive on a 4-lane highway. Partly through city; mostly in the country. There were a few times when we had to really slow down because a tree had come down and was blocking the right lane of our side of the highway. Another time we saw a pickup stuck in the water-filled ditch between the lanes. There were skid marks in the road and it's my suspicion that he was blown off the road.

Mike was doing a good job of driving in all this but I could tell he was getting tense. He did finally admit that he was glad we were nearly there because he was about ready to just pull over and stop if we'd had to go much further.

We pulled into the dealership's lot and stopped cold. There's a chain link fence around the property with lots of new and used RV's - trailers, pop-ups, 5th wheels, class A's, etc. In front of us was a section of the chain link fence bent out of shape because a trailer had blown into it. 5 or 6 trailers had bashed into each other (I'm sure their slide-outs are ruined; they were open), and one trailer was on its side up against another trailer. We had missed a small tornado by about 30 minutes! WOW!

There was lots of other damage but this was the most dramatic.

If we hadn't been late leaving the house, if we hadn't had to wait for the rain to let up in Tampa, we would have been there when that tornado hit. So thankful that things worked out the way they did.

Because of the tornado, we couldn't get our work done on the 5th wheel today. The Service Manager kept apologizing but we told him we completely understood. So we are in their little camping area for the night. Our first night in our little condo on wheels. We are to be over to their service department at 8 in the morning to get our work done. Hopefully, no later than noon we'll finally be on the road.

Mike has been napping since we got settled; neither of us slept well last night. I woke up about 2:45 in pain all over my body - which happens when I'm under a lot of stress. When I woke up this morning, I had some kind of bite that was stinging/burning on my thumb. I figure it was probably a spider and that's what had set everything off during the night. Put some Neosporon on it and it's much improved. Now to just get rid of the aches.

Oh, and Mom and Dad? Brad called a little bit ago to make sure we were alright. Mom and Dad's flight got postponed a few times. Finally, Brad said enough and booked them on a flight tomorrow morning; they will spend the night at his place. Understandable but poor Dad must be so confused. We learned that if he has quiet consistency, he does much better. Yesterday would have been very traumatic for him!

So, although we had an adventure today, I'm not calling it the beginning of THE adventure. Tomorrow we'll be like Mike's grandmother and shout, "We're off the Captain shouted as he waved his wooden leg!" as we take off north out of Florida.

Stay tuned!

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Our 'Home' is home

Friday, the 25th, we picked up our 5th wheel. What a totally frustrating day it was!

Our appointment was at 11 am. We'd gotten Mike's youngest brother, who lives not far from us, to come stay with Mom & Dad for the day because we knew it was going to be a long day. 1-1/2 hour drive to the dealership, 2 to 3 hours work on the truck, walk-through of the 5th wheel, etc., etc. 1-1/2 hour drive back to the house with the 5th wheel.

We were 20 minutes late getting there. We left in plenty of time but there was a truck carrying a HUGE wide-load on one of the two-lane highways we had to take. It was so wide that there were 3 escort vehicles in the front and 3 in the back. Vehicles coming from the opposite direction had to pull completely off the highway onto the sloped shoulder and wait for this huge thing to pass. There was no possible way to pass. Finally, they pulled off onto another highway - which we should have taken as well but we opted to keep going.

We called our sales rep at the dealership and let him know what was going on and that we'd be a little late. He let the Service Department know. When we arrived, we had to wait 1/2 an hour while the people at the service desk figured out where our parts were. Finally, it came out they hadn't come in yet! What?!! They'd known we were coming in for the hitch work for 2 weeks and they knew we were coming from 1-1/2 hours away AND had to get someone to watch Mike's parents. They thought the parts would be in via UPS over the lunch hour so we got back in our truck and went out to lunch.

When we returned an hour later, the parts had arrived, thankfully. The mechanics took the truck to start the hitch work while one of the RV techs took us out to go through the 5th wheel. We went over it inch by inch and made notes of things we needed to repair - remember we bought it 'As-Is'. We discovered that all 3 slide-outs had pieces of the seals missing on both the interior and exterior parts of the slide - something we hadn't noticed when we bought it. Made a note that we'd have to get some 1" bubble gasket to fix those areas that were missing it; don't want the weather getting in.

It was also noted that the gray-water tank was half full and the black-water tank was completely full. The tech made a note to make sure those were dumped before we took possession and drove away.

We spent the rest of the afternoon signing papers and twiddling our thumbs. Did pick up a few things we knew we'd need in the 5th wheel but other than that we were just waiting.

Finally, around 4:30 we were shown how to hitch/unhitch the unit and at 5 were told we could leave, We were exhausted! We had expected the truck to ride differently with the 5th wheel attached but I think we were both surprised at what a huge difference there was!

After we got home and it was finally parked in the right spot of the driveway, I looked at Mike and said, "Don't forget to lock it up." He looked at me with a blank look on his face and said, "How? I don't have any keys." Joy.

Saturday morning he took his Dad out to show him things in the camper and discovered that the holding tanks had NOT been emptied. That was the last straw. I called and asked to speak to the General Manager, whom we had met when we signed the sales agreement 2 weeks earlier. He was at another of their facilities in Meetings so I asked for his email. I shot off a letter to him explaining our major problems and stating that although everyone had been very friendly, their service department was highly disorganized.

The GM wrote back almost instantly, apologizing and asking for a conference call on Monday between him, us, and the Service Department manager. I responded that Tuesday would be better because we hoped to be getting the parts we needed for repairs on Monday and would be running around. No response.

This morning Mike went out to do some measuring before he went out to buy the seals (we'd found a local source). The battery had gone dead and he couldn't operate the slides so couldn't measure everything to see how much of the seal he needed. He wanted to check the battery (which is new) but couldn't open any of the bay doors because we didn't have any keys. He was so disgusted! He called the GM but had to leave a voice mail. After an hour, I emailed the GM again. No response.

Finally, 2 hours later, Mike called the company directly. The GM had just left the receptionist's desk so she was able to get his attention. He said to transfer Mike to the Service Manager. That man had copies of all the emails and apologized profusely for all the problems on Friday. I knew he'd offered to replace the seals for us by the way Mike was responding and saying, "No, we bought it As-Is, we should do the work." I was across the room going "What is that man thinking?"

I spoke up and said, "You know, we could go there on Thursday on our way out of Florida and let them do the work." Light bulbs went off in Mike's head and he changed his response. We are now going to get Mike's brother to get Mom & Dad on their plane to New England while we head back to the dealer for the work. They're also going to dump and clean the tanks AND give us a free night at their connecting campground.

So, it pays to complain when things don't go right. You just have to be sure you do it right. State the facts and what you had expected without going into a tirade. 9 times out of 10 you will get a positive response. The GM was made aware of problems that they are working on to fix; the Service Department is going to try and stay on top of things better, and we get work done for free that we thought we'd be having to do ourselves. A win/win situation.

We will be leaving Florida one day later than planned which means we'll be a day later getting to our friends in Louisiana but, hey, we're retired now and can be more flexible! We still should be able to be in New England by April 14th which was the original plan.

On the plus side, we were pleased to see that when all the slides are in, we can still walk down the middle of the 5th wheel and get to the kitchen area without any problems. That means we can easily stop at rest areas and fix lunch or boondock for a night when traveling.

Anxious to get the bed set up. We love the 4" mattress topper I purchased last week. Just need to get the upholstery foam to make the extension for the head of the bed.

Stay tuned for phase 2 with the 5th wheel.

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Finding Frugal Deals

In anticipation of picking up our 5th wheel, we've done some research and talked to experienced full-timers.

Our unit is a 2000 and the outside is faded, chalky-looking, and has some black streaks (we're told the fading, chalky appearance can happen in 1 day here in the sun in Florida. LOL). We've been told by RVers around the country that we can clean up the outside. That we'll be totally amazed at the difference once we're done. So, per advice, we've been to Dollar Tree and bought Awesome Cleaner (for some reason you can only find it at Dollar Tree) for $1/bottle. You dilute it to 25% and use it to clean the outside. We were told it would remove any black streaks easily. Mike has already used it on the truck and was extremely happy with how well it cleaned it up. (I'm told this same company makes a spot remover and laundry detergent that are fantastic. Haven't found them yet though.)

Next I found a buffer/polisher on Craigslist for $20. Practically brand new. Now Mike just needs to pick up the waxes, etc., and we'll be ready to go.

We were also advised to get a CB radio if we were going to do much traveling as it's the best way to check on road, traffic and weather conditions. I looked at them online to get an idea of pricing - over $100 for a hand held one (doesn't require a license) with an external, magnetized antenna to go on the roof of the truck cab. Checked on Craigslist and found a nearly brand new one WITH the antenna we wanted - all for $50. Very pleased with our deals.

Over the course of 3 days, I got several quotes for insurance. We've been with Allstate for years and had found them to be cheaper than other insurance companies with great service. However, we were floored at what they charged us for insurance on the truck when we got it in January - $1600/year! We were told they could insure the 5th wheel but it turns out they would only insure it as a trailer - not as a full-time living space - with no insurance on contents & no liability insurance if someone should get hurt in it, etc. $408/year for insuring it just for replacement cost. So a total for both vehicles of just over $2000/year with Allstate - without the type of coverage we required.

We belong to Good Sam's RV Club so checked on their insurance through GMAC. We were given a full-timers' quote for the truck and 5th wheel combined with better coverage than Allstate for just over $1400. WOW! Then I checked with Miller RV Insurance out of Oregon. They had been recommended by a bunch of other full-timers and are licensed nationwide. They quoted with a few different companies and different ways (one option was to insure the truck through GMAC (just over $700) and the 5th wheel through a different company $400+).

We ended up going with one of the Miller quotes - same exact policy as we were quoted through Good Sam but $150 cheaper. They are great people to work with and worked hard to find us the best deal. In time we may add an umbrella policy but in the meantime this will do nicely.

I'm also gearing up to improve the bed in the 5th wheel. I'm going to get some upholstery foam and make that extension to put at the head of the bed. I found a high-quality 4" memory foam mattress topper at half price to put on before the regular mattress pad and bedding. Will need a new bedspread but am thinking I will make a quilt with fabric I have back in storage that is the right colors for the decor that's already there.

If there's room, we're talking about building or buying a second hand small island with lockable wheels that will extend our storage/workspace in the kitchen. Will be better able to make a decision once we've got it here and can take our time considering things.

So, in another week our full-timing adventure begins. Are we excited? Yes! Are we nervous? Yes! Have we enjoyed our time with Mike's parents? Yes!

Am I ready to leave Florida? YES! On many levels! We are not 'city' people by any stretch of the word. The traffic here is horrendous - not as bad as Seattle but getting there. We hadn't been down here for several years and are amazed at how bad the traffic has gotten. And 80 degree temps with 90% humidity in March does not a happy, healthy Gloria make. (They've announced on TV that we're experiencing the highest pollen count they've had in over 10 years.) Mom and Dad are flying back to New England a week from today so we'll be hooking up the 5th wheel and heading north ourselves.

I rather imagine this will be our last visit to Florida. Looks like we'll have to be snowbirds for a year or 2 with the 5th wheel we bought but, hopefully, we won't be coming this far south. We'll see.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout