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

Buying an RV on a Frugal Budget

If you remember from my last post, we spent our first week here in Florida making Mom and Dad comfortable with us and recuperating from all the craziness during the month of February. We did do research online looking for a 5th wheel during that week. Didn't really find anything though which was probably a good thing as we had no energy to go look at something.

By that first weekend here in Florida though I was starting to get antsy about finding something in decent shape in our price range. So the beginning of our second week here, we got serious in our search. Friends had offered to come keep an eye on Mom & Dad while we were out looking so we started contacting dealers and private party sellers in earnest.

Monday, March 7th, we drove up to the Tampa area to a huge dealership that had been recommended to us. Mike had called first and was told by the salesman that, yes, they had quite a few good units in our price range. The place was gorgeous! 130 acres owned by the dealership which included RV's for sale, an RV park, a restaurant, a Campers World. The place just went on and on. There was even a security guard at the gate checking RV's that were coming and going.

When we met with our salesman though, disappointment started to set in. He wanted to spend a huge chunk of time 'selling the dealership' instead of showing us RVs. That got old quickly! Finally, he put us in a golf cart and started taking us on a tour of the RV's for sale - mostly Class A's - which isn't what we wanted. When we did finally get to the 5th wheels, he kept showing us things that either didn't have what we wanted - or were way over our budget. Finally he showed us one that he said they just wanted to move quickly and were willing to come down to meet our price. It was lovely. We went over it with a fine tooth comb then Mike made an offer.

Basically he laughed at us - and then we realized we'd been taken for a 'ride'. He thought by getting us in there, that he'd be able to get us to either raise our price range - or be willing to take out a loan. Nope, not going to happen! We don't have a lot of money, it's going to be our only place of residence, and we're trying to not run up debt! We're retired and on a fixed income now and have to make do with what we can afford on what we have. Period. The salesman was shocked - don't imagine he runs in to too many people who stand as firm as we did.

So nothing positive on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday were occupied doing more research and making a ton of phone calls. We were learning that when the cheaper units were advertised, you had to act fast cause they were snapped up quickly. Mike was able to get appointments to look at 3 on Thursday when some other friends were going to come parent-sit for us.

The first 2 were at another dealership. This salesman wasn't nearly as nice as the one on Monday - he was definitely a 'used-car-salesman' of the old school. It rained off and on that day and the first unit he showed us positively reeked of mold when we stepped into it. There was a huge puddle in the middle of the floor in the living area - and he acted so surprised! Bolted out of that one in a hurry. The second unit was much nicer and we saw no evidence of leaks but it had more than 1 dead mouse in it somewhere. Nope, not for us. If you can't stand to stay in it when you're just looking at it, why would you want to buy it? That salesman argued with us all the way back to our truck. Was so happy to get out of there.

The last appointment that day was a private seller. We'd seen 2 pictures of the outside and 1 of the inside in the listing. What we could see looked very nice. It was described as being in excellent, brand new condition (refurbished) and had all these nice things - including brand new wood floors (not laminate). It was a disgusting piece of junk! The thing had been stripped of all essentials (propane tanks, hoses, electric connection cord, etc., etc.) and ALL the furniture was missing. The 'new' wood floors were horrible. Stained and scarred up. Someone had put a very thick, uneven, fresh coat of polyurethane on them without sanding or re-staining them first - which just highlighted the blemishes even more. As we were getting in the car to leave, the guy offered to drop his price by about $1500. Nope, still not worth it. We wasted our time and gas to get there.

Needless to say, we were both getting a bit discouraged. Mike kept saying, "We've got a few weeks yet." which was true, but, being a woman, I needed to know that I was going to have a roof over my head that was 'ours' when March 31 came along. So we spent Thursday evening and Friday doing more research and making phone calls.

The problem was that all those great deals that we'd been seeing while we were still in MO had pretty much dried up because the season was ending here in FL. Timing is everything, isn't it?!

Friday, I took a break at lunch time & had a nice chat with Mom and Dad after lunch. Then Mike and Dad ran out to do an errand. About 2 I decided to check Craigslist one last time and up popped a new ad for a decent looking 5th wheel in our price range. At a dealership. I shot off an email asking questions and got a call back within 10 minutes from a salesman. He actually went out to the unit while we were talking so that he could answer any questions I had because we were 1-1/2 hours away and didn't want to waste another trip. He was extremely nice and very helpful.

Mike and Dad came back while I was still on the phone with him so Mike chatted with him for awhile, too. Next thing I knew, all 4 of us were in the truck on the way to Bartow, FL to look at the unit in person. We got there a little after 4 pm and by 6 pm papers were being drawn up for our purchase. It was 6:45 by the time we got out of there and Dad likes to eat at 6 on the dot. So the first thing we did was stop at a Perkins Restaurant for dinner. We'd had fun together driving up to Bartow because we took back highways and saw a lot more local scenery then we would have seen on the Interstate. Dad loved seeing all the cows & orange groves. But coming home it was dark and they just wanted to get home. Finally rolled into the driveway at 9 pm and they went straight to bed.

It was fun having them with us to look at just one unit (don't think they - or us - could have handled a full day of looking at units together). Dad follows Mike around like a shadow and wants to help him with whatever he's doing so he was enjoying poking around the mechanics of the unit. Mom climbed up into it and gasped, "OH! If our camper had been like this, I wouldn't having minded spending the summers in it so much!" She really liked it!

So, what we bought on our frugal budget was.....a 2000 Fleetwood Prowler, model 32-5D. It's about 34' long and has 3 slide-outs. It does have a little damage in the back but Mike's pretty sure he can fix it. It doesn't have as much storage as we were hoping for but we've lucked out on the hitch situation. Our truck already has an in-the-bed gooseneck hitch. After 3 different guys and Mike crawled all over the truck at the dealership, we found out that we only need a gooseneck extension on the 5th wheel and we're all set! That frees up a ton of room in the bed of the truck for storing more stuff. We'll just have to get a cover to go over stuff and around the gooseneck.

We take possession next Friday, March 25th. That will give us almost a week to get it cleaned and polished on the outside, make some repairs in the back, and do some cleaning on the inside. The dealership is even going to get us temporary plates to get it back to MO. We are very impressed with this dealership and would recommend them. Dusty's RV (Camping World) in Bartow, FL. I think we met all the big muckity-mucks there as well as most of management in the service department and were very impressed. Very straightforward and down to earth.

I'm already thinking about little things we can do to get more storage inside but already I'm happy with the homey feel it has. A little nervous as we start this new adventure in our lives but also excited about getting on with it.

And, I have made a pledge of myself. We still have family and friends who think we're nuts for doing this - nuts to be full-timers, nuts to buy an older unit, etc., etc. I don't want to be rude with them - although it does really bug me when people think they have the right to tell you what to do when they haven't walked in your shoes. Anyway, I have decided that when any more negative comments or questions come up, I'm just going to smile sweetly and change the subject. Constantly, until they get the message that I'm not going to talk about it. We're not expecting to not have any problems...we're alive and breathing and have been so for 62 years. There's always problems around the corner. But there's also adventures and excitement as well as calm and contentment. We just do the best we can. :)

Oh, another good reason for buying an older, cheaper unit.....If in a year or 2 we decide full-timing isn't for us, we won't have invested a ton of money.

Next time I'll tell you about my two cheap finds and our insurance adventure.

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Our Journey to Florida

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. It was a very crazy month (hence the no posting) with lots happening.

We had to leave Missouri by Friday, February 25th, in order to arrive here in Sarasota by the 27th so that our niece could fly back to New England on the 28th. We were absolutely swamped the month of February sorting, packing, advertising, selling, and storing STUFF! It was crazy. The last weekend before we left, I was feeling so discouraged because some of the bigger items that I thought would sell quickly, hadn't even had inquiries. And then all of a sudden, POOF! It was all gone in 2 days - and at the prices we were asking. It was sad to see some things go out the door but at the same time there was this feeling of immense relief - not just that we wouldn't have to put it in storage but also, that our lives were that much more uncluttered!

Still, even though we got rid of tons of stuff, we filled 2 storage units - one 10 x 15 & one 10 x 10. We'll be back in that area the first few days of April to stock the RV and, hopefully, consolidate the 2 storage units into 1. We're hoping in the Fall to be back in that area again and have a yard sale at some friends' house to get rid of even more stuff. But I digress.....

We had planned on leaving MO on Thursday the 24th but we were so exhausted we were almost sick. And we got up that morning to heavy, pouring rain. We needed to take a few little items over to the storage unit, run some errands, then load the truck - all in that heavy rain. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. We looked at each other long and hard and then simultaneously said, "Nah". Instead we did our errands, went to the Golden Corral for a very late lunch, then checked in to the local Holiday Inn and vegged the rest of the day (we'd been sleeping on an air mattress at home for nearly 2 weeks cause we'd sold the bedroom set). It was wonderful and re-charged our batteries before we took off for Florida the next day.

Now I know I said we are trying to do everything frugally and there we went spending the night in a Holiday Inn. But.....it didn't cost us a dime! Mike still has some points left from when he traveled and stayed at Holiday Inns so we used a few for a free nights' stay. Well worth it!

Friday the 25th finally saw us take off for Florida. It was very cold and snowing lightly as we packed up the truck. Covered the back with a new tarp and off we went. I drove the truck for the first time on this trip. The dually tires gives it a little different 'feel' than what I'm used to but overall I didn't have any problems. We'll see what I have to say after driving while we're pulling the 5th wheel.

Everything looked cold and Wintery until we crossed the Oklahoma/Texas line. Literally. A few feet after crossing that line it was like we'd entered another world. Instantly, the grass and fields were bright green and you could tell the leaves were about to burst open on the trees. Lovely but totally weird.

We spent the night with friends of ours in Jefferson, TX, because I'd sold my embroidery machine and many of its supplies to a lady not far from there. So we were up early Saturday morning & on the road again to get that machine delivered and get a lot of miles under our belt before we stopped for the night east of Pensacola.

Have a funny story about me driving on Saturday. We were in Mississippi and I was driving when suddenly there were 2 police cars behind me with lights flashing and sirens blaring. I knew I hadn't been going over the speed limit and had been very careful about my placement in my lane (still getting used to big truck). This big, black, male police officer wearing a strand of neon orange beads (I'd never seen anything like that before) came walking up to my window and asked if I'm alright. Yes, I'm fine. Well, why was I going all over the road? Inside my head I was thinking, "I wasn't", but I answered him that I hadn't realized I was and that it must have been because I wasn't used to the truck yet. Hmmmm. Then he asked why we didn't have any license plates. I explained that we do have one on the front and that's all Missouri requires for a truck that size - and that's all they gave us. Hmmmmm. Then he wanted to know what was under the tarp in the truck bed and would I give permission for them to look. I told him sure, that it was just kitchen things like a mixer, dry goods, etc, as well as a bicycle and our suitcases. I explained that we were on our way to Florida to take care of DH's parents for a month because they're visiting down there but have dementia. Hmmmmm. (Lots of hmmmming going on by the policeman.) But he also seemed so surprised that I agreed to the looking so quickly.

Up to that point I hadn't realized there were 2 police cars and 4 policeman. The one I'd been talking to walked to the back of the truck where there were 2 other officers and told them to check the back of the truck but didn't think they would find any thing suspicious. Up came a female officer who asked me all the same things the first one had, then went and stared at the license plate on the front of the truck. Then a third officer came up and did the same thing. It started to get a bit ridiculous.

Finally, the first officer came back and sent us on our way. We honestly think they stopped us because we didn't have a plate on the back and they thought they were going to make a drug bust. Pays to keep your cool and be agreeable!

Arrived in Sarasota on Sunday, the 27th, at 5:30 in the afternoon. We were dead tired and it was *warm*. I don't care for *warm* and went to bed that night hoping it wasn't going to be hot all month! It took both of us a few days to get back on our feet after all the stress of the last month.

I know it was stressful for Mom & Dad (especially Dad) to have another 'changing of the guard' so to speak. But overall, things went well and Dad seemed very comfortable with us - even though he wasn't sure who we were. I knew from experience with my brother, who also has dementia, that an effective way to get them to trust you is to bring up things from the past. It seemed to work with Dad. It also helps if we don't try to tell him what he's trying to say and give him a chance to think. Sometimes it can take a long time for him to sit there and think it through but he appreciates us being patient.

Enough for now. Will talk about our 5th wheel search next time.

Til then,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout