Our Schedule

January 1, 2017. At home in Cullman, AL.

Following few weeks...... trips to Louisiana and Maryland to retrieve two utility trailers filled with our STUFF. Will be like Christmas finding stuff we forgot we had.

March 3 to March 10, 2017. East Branch COE, Chattahoochia, GA.

March 13 to March 30, 2017. NOMADS project at Dooly Campground, Vienna, GA

Thursday, January 19, 2017

We've got it together....sort of.

Cullman, AL

When we started fulltime RVing in February, 2010 we packed some of our belongings in a utility trailer. For the last couple of years it has been parked in Louisiana.   Two years ago we bought another, smaller utility trailer and it has been in Maryland.

The week before last we drove 550 miles to Louisiana on Wednesday to get the trailer and we returned to Alabama on Thursday.  A quick trip.

Three days later, on Sunday, we left Cullman and drove about 470 miles to Wytheville, VA where two of my nephews and their families live to spend the night.   An added bonus was that my sister and brother from NJ were there visiting for the week.   Nephew Jason treated us all to his homemade PA Dutch style Chicken Pot Pie.  The next day we drove on Maryland, about 378 miles.   We stayed at my daughter Amy's for the night, got the trailer and drove to PA to my daughter Terri's where we had more stuff.

Starting Friday morning we did the trip in reverse.....from Terri's to Amy's for the night.  Then on Saturday back to Wytheville, Va.  And back to Alabama on Sunday.

This week we have been busy emptying the trailers.   I had forgotten so much of what we had.  Even at that, we had to buy one bed, two sets of mattresses, and still-to-get living furniture.   Today we bought a desk for my office.

Before doing some of our shopping we should have more closely checked out what we had in those lots and lots of boxes.  Bought dinner ware....found a set today.   Bought some towels....found a lot yesterday.  Bought a quilt for a bedspread.....found one yesterday.  I thought we had sold, donated or given away most everything.   Not even close.  I am not complaining, so glad to see things I had forgotten about.  And need.

Guest bedroom is done.  Dining room about done except for changing out the chandelier for one I had kept.  Both bathrooms done.  Kitchen is done.  Basement rec room will have to wait....it's a 26 x 26 storage room right now.  Living room is a work in process.  What we are using for furniture is a rattan set that was Terri's that she had stored away.   Our bedroom is partly done, the bed is set up.  The dresser and arm?? (however the heck it's spelled....it's that tall thing to store clothes)  are too heavy for Len and me to carry.  Len's son Lennie who lives nearby was here the Saturday between our trips but it was 20 degrees outside.  Much too cold to be moving things in.  Last Sunday they had other commitments.  And this Sunday we are expecting T Storms.  Just might have to wait another week.  He works out of town during the week. Len and I carried all the other furniture in.   I am building muscles.  Just not enough for those two last pieces.

We have not been able to do much outside.   We've only had a few days of clear warmer weather.  Lots of rain and it's expected to continue through the weekend.    Men came on Sunday right after we arrived home to move that porch that was connected to the double wide on the property.  They left behind the steps and handicap ramp to the porch. Their equipment tore up some of the front yard and driveway.  AND they drove over the city water connection and broke a pipe.  Said they would fix it.  That's the last we saw of them.  We had no water that night after driving 450 miles and unloading some stuff.  We probably stank!  So Monday Len and our Realtors husband fixed the problem.  When we got back today from town, the steps and ramp are gone.  Glad we didn't wait for them to fix our water situation.  We would have to be fumigated by now.

Oh, I managed to do another stupid thing.  Well, maybe two.  On the trip to Louisiana, we were switching the driving duty.  I walked around the truck and stepped off a rounded curb.  Twisted my ankle and fell.  It was hard to walk for a couple of days.  It is still some what bruised.  But it is fine now.  What isn't fine is my camera.   The morning we left Louisiana at 4:30 am, we were down the road a short way and Len wanted a bottle of water.  We had a small cooler on the back floor of the truck where I could open the lid and get out the water in the dark.   Hours later Len opened the cooler to get a coke.  There in the cold water that had been ice the day before was my very good camera.   How it got in there, is anybody's guess.  Life goes on, my camera doesn't.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A few things we did first......

Cullman, AL

So, we closed on the house on December 28.  The seller had 7 days to move out after closing.  (I never heard of someone continuing to live in the house once it was sold.  But they tell me it's quite common down here.)  Oh well.

The seller moved out on December 31.  Happy New Year!  We brought the RV over from the campground and parked near the front of the house and continue to spend many a trip back and forth lugging. Until last night we continued to sleep in the RV.  We bought a bed and mattress set for the guest room and used it last night.

While we were still at the campground, we came to the house two days and worked on various projects outside.  Foremost we want to get the RV site set up.   First Leonard installed a breaker box.

He started to dig a trench to lay pipes for the electrical wires.   It's like digging through rock.  Actually it is digging through rock.   Will have to rent a trencher.  He also dug the hole for the electrical pole where the RV will hook up.

The Realtor stopped by with her son and a mother and daughter.   They are taking the porch.  It will be gone either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.   We hope.

I worked around the yard a bit picking up here and there.  Love that we have Magnolia trees.

Between the house and the road is an area that was once a pond but is now overgrown.  Running along the edge on our property is a small stream that feeds the pond along with natural springs.  Lots of work to do if we ever want this to be a pond area again.  We do.

Does anyone know what this might be?  Some type of flower that's supposed to be cut back?  I would like to know before I start to hack away on it.   That's the pond area in the background.

There are several dead trees in the side yard that we have to remove.   The week before we moved in a wind storm helped us along a bit.  Missed this shed, sweet!

More has been done on move in day and the two days since, including covering that blue paint in the master bedroom.  Another blog will follow in a day or two.

Tomorrow we drive the 580 miles to Sulphur, LA to Len's brother and SIL Royce and Susie's house to get our utility trailer that contains some of our STUFF.   And today we will get into some more projects in the house.  And outside, if the rain ever stops.

I was so tired last night I went to bed at 7.  Hence here I am writing a blog at midnight.  Gonna go try to get some more sleep now.

Until next time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We are home owners!

Arley, Alabama

Yea, we done did it.  We are home owners.  Again.

Today was closing day on our new home.   Since the moment I saw the house online, everything went so smoothly.  EXCEPT FOR LAST FRIDAY.

The bank here in Cullman said I could wire the funds we were putting down from our bank in NJ to the attorneys office where the closing would take place.  So on Friday I called the bank.   Now, I have been dealing with Colonial Bank for close about 35 years.  Last year it was acquired by Cape Bank. A few months ago by OceanFirst.  I called the main office of OceanFirst and told them what I needed to do.   Can't do they tell me.  I have to be there in person to sign forms to wire the money.   What?  Closing is Wednesday.  I am in Louisiana.  The bank in NJ is closed Monday.  So am I supposed to hightail it from SW Louisiana to NJ over the Christmas weekend, go to the bank on Tuesday and be back to Alabama on Wednesday morning?  Impossible.

I called the branch office I always dealt with.  Told me the same.  The bank in Cullman called them. Told them the same.

So late Friday the bank in Cullman said they would attempt something else on Tuesday.  They sent me forms to fill out and scan back to them.   HALLELUJAH whatever they did worked.  The money was transferred from NJ to Alabama and ready this morning.  I will be closing all accounts at OceanFirst and cash in my stocks with them to boot.

This morning we did the walk through and had lots of questions.  All answered.  This afternoon we had the closing and met the seller.  What a lovely person she is.   Could not have been easier to work with.  She could not believe her house sold so fast.  We can't believe it either.  The realtor went out on a limb for us as there were 3 other bids.  We made the offer sight unseen with a contingent that if we did not like it, all deals were off.

Today the seller gave us a thick folder of everything she had done to the house since she had it built in 2001.  Also information on the property going way back as it was family land.

A some things need to be done.  First....  There was a double wide trailer that was removed last week. But, the attached porch was left.  The realtor's husband and son are going to dismantle it.  Between them and us, we will make use to the wood.  The porch.

Sad to see it go, but what would we do with it.   The porch is on the left and the garage that was also attached to the double wide is on the right.  That will stay.  Len will enclose the two open sides.  There is a room running the width of the garage and is about 5 feet deep.  The seller said there are tools in that room and more in another out building.  Does Len want them?  Does it snow in Alaska?

Tomorrow Len will start working on the electrical boxes to get the area set up for our RV.  You can see the pipes running to the septic system directly in front of the garage.  The water connection is also up there.   Our intent is to have concrete laid in the area where the double wide sat.   We will have full hook ups not only for our rig, but for any of our RVing friends who might come to visit.

The seller has 7 days to move out.  She plans to be out by Saturday morning.   Hopefully we will have the electric done for the RV and turned on by Tuesday when we are scheduled to move from the campground.

Lots to do!  Can't wait!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Why it's time

Lumberton, TX

Way back in 2005 or so I toyed with the idea of full time RVing once Leonard and I retired.  The more I investigated that option the more I liked the idea.  After much discussion we decided it would be a good way to spend some of our retirement.

After various issues, including some health concerns, we finally hit the road in February 2010.  The house was sold, most of our belongings were sold, discarded or given away.  Those items we wanted to keep we stowed in a new utility trailer we purchased and parked at accommodating relatives.

Over these last 7 years we have seen a great part of the country including some of Alaska.  We've connected with some fine people over all these miles.   And at least 3 times each year we volunteered for 3 week projects with NOMADS, a mission of the Methodist Church.   Two years we worked for a few months as gate guards in the Texas oil fields.

Most of the time we were happy to keep traveling.  But we've had challenges.  Health wise, Len now has deep vein thrombosis and has to be on blood thinners.  He has had a knee replacement and back surgery.  I had a stroke.  We've had many breakdowns and mishaps causing damage to both truck and fifth wheel.  We've survived all of this.

But recently I have felt the need for "roots".   I have felt homeless.  My family is now dispersed.  My brother and sister still live in New Jersey in the town where I grew up, my sister in the house of my youth.  My one daughter had moved to Maryland about 10 years ago.  My other daughter, who bought the house Len and I owned in NJ, moved to Pennsylvania two years ago.   So where is home? We love the people at the church we attended when we lived to NJ, but we seldom are in the area. We felt this church was our home church.  It feels less so now.  I do miss those people.

I find I no longer enjoy the moving around every few weeks or even more often.  I dread the setting up and tearing down.  I especially dread the roadway travel.  I have a fear when we are on the highway. Perhaps it is because of the mishaps we've had.

I don't sleep well at night.  Five hours is a good night.  And it is never in one stretch.  A few hours and then awake.  Maybe a few more hours later.  It is after 2 am and here I am, unable to sleep.

So, a few months ago we started talking of buying a house.  Just talk.  But I found myself checking out Realtor.com.    Hence, two weeks ago the house we are buying appeared and everything fell into place.    Will I like Alabama?  I don't know but I am willing to give it a try.  Where do I want to settle?  I don't know but Alabama is as good as anywhere.

We left Alabama three days ago headed to Texas for 10 days then on to Louisiana until time to head back to Alabama after the first of the year to close on the house.  We stopped at a truck stop in Louisiana for the night about half way between Alabama and Texas.   Len noticed something looked wrong.  A hanger for the axle springs was broken and tires were damaged.  He and the man from roadside service did a temp job to get us to where we are now in Texas.  Our home is at the RV dealer where is was purchased, getting repaired.  No idea how long this will take. This is our 2nd night at a motel.  Insurance pays $250 a day for meals and lodging, but only for 5 days.  Work on the RV is covered under it's original two year warranty.

As much as I loved the travel, the people we met, the sights we've seen, I won't miss the crowded roads, the fear of another breakdown, not having "roots".   Yes, it's time.

We will keep our beautiful Open Range RV.  We will take weeks or even months at a time to travel. We don't want to give that up completely.   In the meantime, we are enjoying the anticipation of what lays ahead at our new home.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to sleep again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We are thrilled with it!!!!

Cullman, AL

Life changes!      As I wrote in my last blog, I saw a property and house in Alabama on Realtor.com.  I left a message for a realtor to call me.   I got two responses both saying they would call me later.  I waited until the next day.  Then I went back online and found the link to the listing realtor and sent off a message.  She immediately called me.  You snooze, you lose.

She told me about the property and said there were 3 other people interested.  I told her we would not be in the area until December 2.  However, Len called our son and daughter-in-law who live in Cullman and asked if they would meet with the realtor.  They did on Saturday and gave four thumbs up.

So, what to do.  We decided there was no reason to remain in PA. until Thursday except that we were paid at the campground til then.   We decided to get on the road yesterday and arrived in Cullman today.  

In the meantime we received a call from our financial planner that we had two large CDs about to come due and did we want them to roll over or cash out.   We had til Dec 2 to decide.  After Dec 2 there would be a penalty to cash them out.  We decided to cash out now. A good size down payment.

We put in a bid on this property sight unseen with a contingent it passed a home inspection and we like it.   Sunday night the realtor met with the seller and presented three bids.  Our bid was $2,000 under asking, the homeowner buys a one year house warranty and she leaves the washer and dryer.    We waited..... we  nervously waited.   We got the call.   Our bid was accepted.

We thought of paying cash.   But our financial planner pointed out that we will be hit hard with Federal taxes.   With a mortgage, we get the tax benefit.   Each year (me being old) I have to take a mandatory distribution on my 401(k).  In two years Lens will have to start withdraws too.  After talking to the local bank loan officer, I find that just my distribution would pay for entire years mortgage plus.   WOW!

Tomorrow we meet with the loan manager in the morning and the home inspector in the afternoon.

Today we met the Realtor and toured the house.  WE LOVE IT.

From the driveway.    I really like the tin roof.  And carport.

Back deck.  Note the swing.

One of three outbuildings (not counting the carport)

What is this building???? Len will find a use.

Front of the house.  Decent landscaping the a terrific porch.

House sits about 300 feet from the road.  A total of 4 acres.  300 feet deep more behind the house, most of it wooded.

Dining area

Living room

Kitchen.  Appliances need updating.  All in good time.  House was built in 2001

Spare bedroom

Another spare bedroom

Utility room

Master bedroom.  That blue paint HAS TO GO.   The master bedroom has a walk in closet.  The bathroom has a spa tub, a huge vanity, a large shower.   There is another bathroom with a good size shower.

A 26 x 26 finished basement room.

On the property is a double wide trailer that will be moved.   The garage type structure will remain.  It will eventually be Len's workshop.    What is really neat is when the double wide is gone, there is the electrical pole, water and sewer .... perfect for a RV site.   Just where our fifthwheel will find a home when we are not on the road.  Plus, a great place for visiting family and friends.

Everything just fell into place.   Almost too easy!  Got more, much more, than we expected to ever find.  Settlement expected to be around January 6.  Oh almost forgot.  Alabama has very low property taxes.   This property?    $250.00 a year.

Until next time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Is it time?

AOK Campground
Jonestown,  PA

Is it time?   Do we ever know when the time is right to make changes?

For about a year we have talked of settling down and travel on a part time basis.  Ideally 6 months at our "home", 6 months on the road.

But where?   Louisiana? Texas? Alabama?  NJ?  PA?  MD? We have chiidren and grandchildren in 5 states.

When we met and married Leonard moved up to NJ from Louisiana.  The deal was we would live and work in NJ until retirement, then move to Louisiana.  We have 6 grandchildren and a daughter in Louisiana.  Last year we started looking at property in Louisiana.   WOW!   We were shocked at the cost of land.    Well, probably not Louisiana.

We have a daughter, 4 grandchildren and 2 great grand kids in Texas.   Well, we know from when we started full timing this would not work.  The costs of vehicle insurances are prohibitive.  The costs of land where we would want to be also.  Several financial reasons it would not be Texas.

Yes, my sister and brother live in NJ and that will always be home to me.  A daughter and grandson live in PA, a daughter and two granddaughters live in MD.  But...... it is the northeast.  Cold, cold, cold in winter.  Cost of homes, heating, property taxes high.  And there is that promise I made 28 years ago.

Son and family live in central Alabama.  They, too, get cold weather and occasional snow.  But it is about 1/2 way between PA/MD/NJ and SW Louisiana.  Maybe a good compromise?  Housing costs are lower, taxes way low.  So.... let's talk Alabama.

Early this year we looked at a manufactured house.  Fell in love.  Looked around at nearby property. Leonard must have some acreage.  Not a lot.... four to eight acres would be good.   Mulled it over in our mind.

A few weeks ago I went on Realtor.com to check out what is in the area.  Found a house on 21 acres for a reasonable cost.  A benefit to looking in this area is that our son and daughter-in-law can check things out for us.  Daughter-in-law checked on the property and talked to the realtor.  Found out why so cheap.  An elderly woman lives in it alone except for a house full of cats.  Walking into the house one is knocked over by the stench.  Floors and walls would have to be ripped up and replaced.  No thanks.

Yesterday I went back on realtor.com and found a property and house on 4 acres at a cost we can surely afford.  And we like how the house looks.  Perfect size.  Son and daughter-in-law took a look/see.  Could not get close to peek in windows as the house is occupied.  Said it is in a nice area.  No trashy properties around.  Just was listed yesterday.

I contacted the agency and got two replies by brokers via email.  Both said they would call me later.  Well, that was early yesterday afternoon.  No call.  Wondering if I want to deal with them.  I will give it a little while and if I don't hear I will make contact with another agency.

In the midst of Len and I talking about this possibly yesterday, we talked about how we would purchase the house.  We were thinking cash and said we would need to talk it over with our Financial adviser.  Can you believe it?  At that moment he called us.  It is time for me to get my annual Mandatory Distribution from my 401(k).   We told him what we were thinking.  He recommends not paying cash as we will be hit with a major tax bill.  He explained how much money we have that is not taxable and suggests mortgaging the rest and paying it off over 5 years.  Makes sense.

Friends and family.  NOTHING is settled.  We are just exploring the options.  I feel housing costs will be going up.  At this time interest rates are extremely low.  There is the very real possibility that with a new administration banking regulations will be changed and interest rates increase.   So, is this the time?  If it is, things will fall into place and we will feel good about it.  If not, we continue as we are and still feel good about it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 11, 2016

How many connections can there be?

Jonestown AOK Campground
Jonestown,  PA

About a year ago I connected with a lady on Facebook and I don't really remember how.  Sorry Jerilyn.   Was it related to Rving? South Jersey history?  Locations?   About the same time we both realized we knew someone in common.  The person in common (my HS friend Carolyn who now lives in Tombstone, AZ) sister was the best friend with Jerilyn's mother.    Follow that?  It gets trickier.

So, we "friended" each other on Facebook.

Sometime over the year she posted about her experiences at a Methodist summer camp in Malaga, NJ that she went to in the early 50's.  So did I.   We compared memories as we are close to the same age and were probably there at the same time.   We both remember the standard lunch fare.... bologna sandwiches.

So, I should say we grew up about 25 miles apart, in different counties.

In August I wrote a blog of tribute to a dear friend who had died.  Well, Jerilyn immediately posted that in reading my blog she realized that Clare was a HS classmate.  

Jerilyn recently asked me how I knew the Crowfoot family.   I explained that I met them back in the 70's when they moved next to the church where I attended.   In seems that she was a good friend of the mans sister, Eleanor.    Before the Crowfoot family moved into the house next to the church they lived closed to where Jerilyn grew up.

In the course of the year, Jerilyn posted on FB about her father-in-law once being the Pastor of a small church in Cumberland County, NJ.....Newport.   Another connection.....my daughter was married at this small church.

Knowing that she attended a rather large church in Collingswood, NJ, I asked her if she knew Rev. Robert K Hill and his wife Olive.  Rev. Hill was the pastor in my hometown church back in the early 60's.  She not only knew them but lived next door.  Their granddaughter was her best friend.  Rev. Hill officiated at my wedding to my first husband.   When he left our church, he moved back to Collingswood.

Okay..... understand the many connections?   Now it really gets spooky.

A couple of weeks ago she posted that her uncle had died.  He was being buried in the small Green Bank, NJ Methodist Church.   I posted my condolences and told her I have ancestors from the area.  Scott, Ford, Fowler.    Ford??  Ford???  Ford????   Yup....... she comes from a Ford line.  She is really into genealogy.  She asked me if I have relatives named Cobb, Snuffin.  Yup.  My fathers aunt was a Ford who married a Cobb.  She told me his name was Ridgeway.  That seemed right to me.. I don't remember him but I can remember they called him uncle Ridge.  As far as Snuffin.  She told me my great-great grandfather married a woman whose last name was Snuffin.   My older daughter has the family history.  I asked her.  Yup, that's right.  

Jerilyn lives in Wilmington, DE and we are here in PA.  So yesterday we met for lunch half way between.  Compared some notes.  I know little of family lineage.  She knows a lot.  My daughter knows a lot.  Will have to compare notes.

 Here is Jerilyn and her hubby Tom.

What other connections could there possibly be.  Nothing would surprise me.

Until next time......