Cindy's January 2007 Blog
It is January 8th, 2007 - I would like to make my first update to our site and let everyone know where we are in the progression of our trip. In the past month Pat and I have gotten a lot of things completed and had our goals set to begin our trip by the 5th of January.
That idea has been surpassed by the need to fulfill some obligations and complete some more tasks that have come as a surprise to us. I will begin from the start of December and fill in the blanks starting with the sale of our rental house.
In a market that is not shining very favorably on the seller, we completed the sale of our house in six weeks. Many prayers were answered there, but I would also like to thank our realtor considering she showed our house at least 20 times and each time we had very interested people. Our realtor and good friend Cindy Sharp from Remax did a wonderful job and made things very easy for us to close on the 22nd of December.
The next thing on our agenda was what to do with all of our stuff?! Since we had been planning this trip for about six years now, we had made sure not to purchase any large items that would be too valuable to part with. By this point in our lives, pretty much all the stuff we had was just that, stuff. Our mind set was to get rid of everything that we didnít want to give to friends, family members or a charitable organization; storage was just not in our thoughts since we donít plan on moving back into a house anytime soon.
I had seen a gentleman at a few of the estate sales in downtown Milford and I thought I had also seen him in the front yard of a house right up the street from me. I came up with this idea to leave a note in his mail box asking him if he had been the one doing the estate sale and if he would be interested in doing another one.
I got a call from him that very same day and I was right, he was the person that I had seen. He came over to my house and I explained our situation and after looking over our whole house, he explained that we didnít have enough stuff for him to make the money he required for the work he'd have to put into it. I decided that with the help of some yard sale savvy friends of mine, I could do this by myself.
This is when I nominated my girlfriends Val and Deanne to lend me a hand. They spent 2 days at my house pricing, cleaning, rearranging and beautifying my junk. We had a sale planned for the second weekend of December and I could only hope for the best.
I put some fliers out around town, advertised in the local paper, and much to my surprise on the morning of our sale; I had a dozen men standing at my door an hour before our sale began. Every girls dream right? To make a long story short, after a three day sale of everything we had ever owned, including our clothes, dishes, pictures, furniture, etc., we made a whopping six grand!
We basically gave the stuff away just so we wouldn't have to store anything, but without Val and Deanne, we wouldn't have been able to get rid of everything. Thanks Girls!!! We were very excited with what we did make and thought this would help us out on our first year of travel. Little did we know this money would go toward some repairs that would be made to our tow vehicle (more about that later).
After our departure from our home, we had planned on staying in our new house on wheels for a couple of weeks just to work out the kinks and figure out the idiosyncrasies of our new camper. With the Christmas holidays being only a few days away, we needed to stay close to home for our last Christmas and celebrate New Years in our home town with our family.
My in-laws had volunteered their driveway space for as long as we wanted, they also asked us to stay inside not understanding that our priority was to learn our way around our new home. We got settled in and were using the driveway as our home base getting pretty comfy with our new smaller living quarters.
Fortunately in Michigan, weíve had quite a mild winter and with the Christmas present of an electric blanket, we had managed to stay pretty warm while sleeping in the 30 degree nightly temperatures, especially with our 2 dogs in the bed with us. On the fifth night of our cozy sleeping arrangement, I was awakened by the rapid shivering of our big pit bull and the little beagle. Unfortunately for them, the electric blanket did not cover all of us and their fur coats just werenít enough to keep them warm with the heater not working.
This is when we also figured out the LP tanks wont work 24-7 for more than 10 days straight. After keeping the camper toasty warm for over 10 days, the air blows ice-cold and even with the warmth of our new electric blanket, my ears and eyeballs were frozen.
Our discovery pushed me and my dogs into our parents house at around 4 am. After the many digs of ďYou're such a WussĒ and ďDonít be such a babyĒ Patrick wasnít too far behind me and followed me inside to hunker down in the warmth of an insulated house. At least now we know if we run the heater for more than 10 to 12 days straight, we had better be close to a filling station. We donít plan on being in this cold of weather on our journey, so hopefully weíll only have to fill them every few months. That is if we can every get out of here soon.
After the heater incident, we made the unfortunate discovery that our Leer Cap we have on the back of the truck is leaking very badly. We decided that since our truck will be the main storage unit for all of our things on the trip, we would have to replace it.
Since the local Leer dealership would not warranty the cap or the leaking windows with it only a few years old, we did not want to go with another Leer product. We went out to Brighton to our local ARE dealer and custom ordered a truck topper thatíll better suit our needs.
The gang at Ultimate Body helped us get the cap we needed and saved us some serious money on such a large purchase. This is also when our goals of the January 5th departure date were put to an end.
Due to the time it takes to custom make our topper and have it painted to match our truck, our hopes of not having to drive in the snow were also shattered yesterday when the sky opened up and dropped about an inch of the nasty stuff on us, just enough to turn every thing white and also enough to make the time pass that much slower until weíre able to leave.
Not that we're not used to driving in the snow, but when your plans were to be in a sunny climate by now are put on hold, any bad weather is only that much worse.
Today is January 8th and I canít tell you how eager we are to get out of Dodge. Although Iím sure we can fill the time with things we probably should have done a few weeks ago, we had just planned on blowing them off till we got on the road. Oh well, I guess all we can do is wait. At least when we get the truck cap, weíll know itís the one we wanted and itís not going to leak.
January 14th 2007
This morning has been a very non-productive day which is very frustrating when we are so eager to get our trip started. We went to church this morning and had planned on going to my sister-in-laws house to do some work on a new cabinet that will give us a lot more storage space and hide our electronic equipment.
We have decided that any flat spot in the camper will automatically collect things that will have to be put away every time we move. We don't plan on staying in the same spot for a long period of time, so a closed storage cabinet makes more sense.
After a few hours with my hard working brother-in-law Sean, who can do just about anything with building materials, our decision is to pay someone to do it since it will be too complicated and time consuming for someone with 5 young children.
We ended up staying at my brother and sisters house until around 5:30 at which time we received a phone call from my mother-in-laws house. The first thing we heard on the message was the sound of my beagle, Lucy.
It sounded as though Lucy was being punished and she was not very happy with her situation. The message went on to say that my mother-in-law can't figure out what is wrong with the dogs, they haven't stopped crying since we left this morning at 9am.
Our worst fears had been thrown right into our faces, just as we suspected, the dogs cant live without us. My in-laws had considered keeping the dogs for us while we were on Cumberland Island in Georgia and returning them to us when they came to Florida in February.
I think this may have foiled our plan considering Judy, my mother-in-law, said "you can never give these dogs to anyone, they cant be without you." Now I guess this just reiterates my point, "these are my kids and they must come with us." Pat feels that this will make our trip a lot more hectic and the responsibility will wear us down.
My defense to this logical statement is we took on this responsibility 8 years ago and all of us will adjust to traveling together. Boarding the dogs will always be an option if the need arises and I will feel much better having them as company for me when Pat is busy on the computer.
I will let you know if I still feel the same way in a month or two when the long walks and barking at strangers or squirrels in the middle of the night starts to get to me. We should be getting out of here soon, hopefully just after all this ice melts and the snow has turned brown.
January 22nd 2007 The Fulltime Journey Has Finally Begun
Yeah we are finally gone!!! Our first day on the road was mostly about trial and error. Everything seems to be going really as expected although I am a bit concerned about the motorcycle falling off.
I believe that it is extended out to far from the camper and the effect is a lot of bouncing to the point that every time we hit a bump I would say "ahhh, is it still their?" As soon as we get to my brothers house in South Carolina we are going to find a reputable welder to do some adjustments for us which we think will eliminate our concern (ok maybe our panic).
We didn't get great gas mileage on this tank of gas, averaging only about 9 mpg, We would have hoped for a bit better since we have been average around 13mpg while towing.
I believe its because we did a lot of high idling to keep the ice off of the vehicle in the past week. Wow what a challenge this has been to get everything packed in 18 degree weather. I always say to Pat "What ever doesn't make me kill you makes us stronger"
While we were driving threw Ohio our vehicle was completely covered in ice. Every time a piece of ice would break off, we would both look in the side mirrors to make sure the motorcycle was still there and the kayaks didn't break free.
After around an hour or so we reassured our selves we have insurance on everything, so lets just enjoy the ride. I was just about to doze off and I heard a loud crack and kept hearing it over and over. A large icicle had broken off of the kayaks and dropped between the cap on the truck and the camper top. That just about scared the life out of me!! Here are a few pics to let you see what I mean. Good bye for now.
Frozen Kayaks or Frozen Batteries
January 24 2007 Two Days In, And Still Cold
We have been taking our time and trying to find a warm spot this week. Yesterday the temperatures got up to around 39 (pretty sad). Our trip to Monticello was pretty cool although, I did like the outside better than the inside. I'm not sure if its because they were doing their spring cleaning or what, but we only got to see a few rooms and a lot of things were covered up by tarps and such.
Nothing like the grandness of the Biltmore in North Carolina. They did tell us as we walked into the door to please forgive the mess. My girlfriend Tish tells me there is a Monticello in Florida also? Not sure if it has anything to do with Jefferson, but maybe we will hit that one too and see if they compare.
Make sure to check out our photo galleries although they wouldn't let us take any pictures inside.
We will be going to see my brother and his family who live in SC. I keep calling every day to let him know where we are and to give our arrival time. I have changed our day three times now and pushed it forward making him realize we are moving really slow.
I think the hardest part about this trip is realizing that I don't always have to be doing something. Just sitting around and looking at scenery is alright, and I won't get in trouble for that. I guess all the years as a waitress and bar owner has put the fear of being idle in me.
Pat has not grasped the idea yet either as I think he is organizing the tow straps by colors right now. Its only been a few days and this morning was a little easier to just relax. With a view like ours in this campground (John H. Kerr in Virginia) its hard not to just sit and stare. My dogs are really loving the long walks and just hanging outside laying in the sun. I'm sure the sunshine will put some spring in all our steps.
January 25 2007
I'm not sure what to update today because we haven't done any incredible adventures or seen any spectacular sights although we are having a great time. Today we stayed in the campground in Virginia and fooled around with things we should have done before we left Michigan.
We put them off until we could get to a warmer climate and it got up to 48į today. Pat rearranged the inside of the truck while I tidied up the inside of the cabin (my new term for the camper!)
We did some grocery shopping, watched the sunset, had some dinner then went to bed early. I seem to get tired a lot earlier when we have some fresh air and a little, I should say, very little exercise!
January 26 2007
This morning we got started early and got on the road to SC via I-15 which I chose, being the navigator on our journey. This road was very entertaining, between the houses built in the 17 and 1800's, the rows of forgotten cotton fields and the peculiar tombstones in peoples front yards, there was plenty to keep my mind visually stimulated.
I was sort of sad to reach our destination today because we were enjoying ourselves so.
We are staying in a campground in Surf Side Beach South Carolina while we're visiting my brother. We chose Ocean Lakes Family Campground which is about a mile from my brothers house and also right on the beach. When pulling in we found out this park is the largest RV Campground in the USA. It has everything we would need here, including a laundry mat, a general store, an indoor pool, a restaurant and they allow pets! What more could we ask for. The best part is it's out of season so it's not crowded which is what we've been trying to avoid.
While Pat was unloading everything I took the dogs out for a walk on the beach which was their first sand experience. They were dragging me to go faster, due to their excitement, and chased all of the birds off of the beach. We walked for around a half mile and on the way back we were taking our time while I was enjoying the carefree sounds of the waves rolling in and the immense space filled with blue water in front of me. As I was looking out into the endless ocean I saw something that actually brought a tear to my eyes from the shock and the beauty of it.
Around 12 feet from where the waves were breaking on shore I saw two fins! Not sure of what they were, I stared at them for a while until I figured out that they were dolphins. They so gracefully arose from the calm water one at a time, showing the rounded top of their bodies with their fin protruding first then returning to the bottom to come up again and use their blow holes to release air.
It really drew my breath away, their moves were so calculated yet simple, a carrousel came to my mind, beautiful to watch and wouldn't harm anyone, they continued their water show for a quarter of a mile. I wanted to share this sight with Pat so I ran all the way back to the camper and threw the dogs inside so that I could bring Pat down to enjoy the view with me.
Pat at first thought I was in a panic and wasn't sure what was wrong until I excitedly said "Coolest thing ever! Come on!" We managed to catch up with them again and enjoyed their water ballet for a few more minutes until they were out of sight. Yeah, now that's what I'm talkin' about! That to me my traveling friends was worth sleeping in the 40 degree nights without heat in the camper!! (only two nights but it was cold)
Things are really starting to look up, warmer weather, ocean waves, good family and new experiences with my forever love, it doesn't get much better than this!!!
January 29 2007
Good morning! I havenít been on in a while due to the lack of exciting things that weíve done here in SC. We have been doing a lot of things with my family which Iím sure no one wants to hear about. Yesterday afternoon we did get a chance to go to Georgetown for the afternoon which was pretty cool.
Georgetown being the third oldest city in South Carolina is a very historical town which had quit a few homes and landmarks from the early 1700,s. We walked around and took some pictures, had some lunch and enjoyed some quality fresh air!
Actually that is the worst smelling town that I have ever been in. Apparently the industry there is a paper mill and man does it smell bad! We at first thought it was a really strong fertilizer that maybe by some mistake we had some how spilt it in the back of the truck then we realized it was the whole town, not just us. (Good thing)
We are leaving this morning to make our way down to FL so we can find some kayaking and mountain biking weather. Itís 38 this morning and that is still a little to cold for me to ride bikes and itís way to windy to kayak. Iíll get back to you soon when I have something fun and exciting to write about. Hope everyone on the East Coast is staying warm, weíve heard from our family itís really cold up there.
January 30, 2007
Today has been a lazy day. Pat has been working on the computer while I doze in and out of sleep while watching movies. Currently Pat is out on a motor cycle ride which he is really happy to be doing. The weather is great, sunny around 57į.
I'm hold up in the cabin due to a little fear I have of tics. Just before we left Michigan Pat had brought home a BackPacker Magazine and I read a big article in there about the dangers of Lime disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Some guy had contracted it and he will never be cured. He is now disabled. Apparently he was misdiagnosed for years.
Out of sight out of mind, the thought of tics never bothered me until Pat called me inside while I was attempting to clean the dog hair out of our vehicle (Useless). He had a tick crawling on his hand just from walking the dogs this morning. I came in from cleaning the car and I had a tick on me also.
I took the dogs for a walk on the road, not letting them go into the wooded area and I picked a tick off of Lucy!! YUCK We are not going outside again until we have protection for us and the dogs!!
I don't get freaked out very easily and have had plenty of ticks on me, growing up in the hills of Tennessee. My brother and I were just reminiscing about when we were kids and we would compete for who had the biggest tick and then we would squish them. Pretty gross I know but we had limited resources for fun.
I am making the dogs cross their legs until I can gather up the courage to walk them.
Every Miles A Memory