Our Schedule

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......

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mooch-camping and some special people

Jonestown AOK Campground
Jonestown,  PA

Here we are back in Jonestown AOK for the month of November.   Hershey Thousand Trails closed for the season on October 30.   Our reservation here started November 1.   That left us two nights wondering where to go.  What to do.  What to do.

Along came an invitation from our friends Darlene and Jim.  We met this couple last year when we were in this area.  Readers might remember that Darlene is a reader of this blog and made contact with me when she read we were camped 3 miles from their home.    They often camp at Hershey TT. They were there the same time we were back in the Spring.  Then they were at Sea Pines TT in south Jersey when we were there.  And they also were back at Hershey TT until closing.   So, appreciating their invitation, we accepted.   Our spot for two nights

Darlene and Jim are in the process of getting their home ready for sale.  They have purchased a F450 dually and are looking to upgrade to a new fifthwheel.   They have one in mind.  We hope they get it before we leave the area..... so looking forward to seeing their new acquisition.  Darlene and Jim:

Thank you Darlene and Jim for allowing us to Mooch-camp.

Yesterday we drove 3 hours back to NJ for a follow-up with our dermatologist.  We both had biopsies done a few months ago and each had one pre-cancerous skin result.  So back to get them frozen.   And this is just plain crazy...... I had 5 spots the Dr. wanted checked.  However, Medicare will pay for no more than 3 at one time.  So, three were removed a couple of months ago and 2 yesterday.   Tell me, does that make sense?  Is it REALLY cheaper to force two Doctor appointments when it could have been done in one???

After seeing the Doctor we met up with our friend Tom for lunch.  This is the first time we've seen Tom since are dear friend Clare passed in August.   We know this is a difficult time for Tom but he is finding he is stronger than he thought.   We wish him well.

The diner is not far from the home of a childhood friend I have not seen in more than 50 years.  I also know her husband Sam, as we all went to school together.   Susan and Sam:

What a treat these people are.  And fascinating too.  They built their own house back in the early 80's.  It is built from the wood of 22 foot tall vinegar vats.  A food processing plant in a neighboring town closed.  They purchased the huge vats and dismantled them.  All visible wood inside the house is from the vats..... the floors, doors, trim, exposed beams.  Beautiful.  They designed the house, carved designs in the wood, everything!  Susan always was a talented artist as were her parents and sister.   And Sam has other skills too.  He took over the family business of restoring and tuning pianos.  Both so talented.  I loved hearing about their lives together for the last 50 years plus.   Fun, fun, fun to see a person I was always fond of when we were children.

Until next time.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Back in PA.

Hershey Preserve Thousand Trails
Lebanon,  PA

We left the Casowasco camp and retreat on October 15.   As we had reservations starting October 16 we needed a spot to overnight.   This is just a short 17 miles from here.

There is a section of the parking lot that is wide open.  We saw three others RVs parked there.  So, we found a nice spot where we would be able to open the slides and pulled in.  We went to in check with security.  We asked the gentleman at the desk if we could overnight.  He said sure.  We told him we were told to check with security.  He took out a piece of paper and made a check mark on it and said "done".   He also told us each to get a Players Card and we would get a prime rib and seafood buffet for free.  Alrighty then.

We set up the rig for the night, went back in and got our cards.  Then we kindly lost $5.00 at the slots to offset the free parking and two free meals.  Seemed the least we could do.  The absolute least.

The next morning we returned to Hershey Preserve.  We find it best to go to a TT park either Sunday mornings or Tuesday or Wednesday.  Otherwise it could be a challenge to find a suitable site.  On this Sunday we really hit pay dirt.   A wide open site, lots of room.  By Thursday night the campground was packed.

The granddaughters visited for the weekend.   What a weekend it was.  Having school off on Friday, we got them on Thursday night.   Friday we went to one of their favorite places.  CABELAS.  On Saturday we went to Hershey Chocolate World.   This is a free venue.....you hop on a moving car that takes you on a ride through the process of making chocolate.  At that end of the ride, everyone gets a free sample.  Being close to Halloween the kids also were given a bag and told to walk around the gift shop and more candy would be given out.  Nice.

Back at the campground, last weekend and this coming weekend is their Halloween event, including Trick or Treating.   We were not prepared for this so we took a quick run to Walmart for candy and outfitted the girls as best we could:

Len walked campground with them.  I handed out candy.  Having just about 110 pieces, I was left with an empty bowl fast.

After church yesterday we took the girls home.

Today we drove about 30 miles over to Intercourse, PA to one of our favorite places.  Kitchen Kettle Village.  Got a lot of Christmas shopping done.

This is Mennonite and Amish country.   This is why Len is not Amish, dusty plowing using old fashioned horse power.

And this is why I'm not Amish.......

Friday, October 14, 2016

After three weeks of fun work

Moravia,  NY

Yes, we survived one more NOMADS project.  Sore bodies, tired minds, new friends, grateful hearts.

Sunrise over Owasco Lake

Sheryl and Brenda tediously painting of a door to a storage area.  Four heavy wooden doors to the common area were also sanded, stained and polyed.  They did a beautiful job on those wooden doors.  All were impressed.

Mike power washing a bridge.  Every deck of at least five buildings (some had more than one deck), every picnic table and every bench throughout the campground were power washed and stained.

Wayne, Brenda and Leonard staining one of two docks that were power washed.

Sheryl carpet cleaning in the dining hall.

And a large dining hall is it.   Every one of the 200+ chairs were cleaned.

The camp provided us with lunch each work day.  Greatly appreciated.

About that door to the storage area that Sheryl and Brenda worked on.  It was donated to the campground.  Like a lot of things in North Central New York, the previous metal door was affected by use of road salt on the parking lot.  The donated door was primed and painted by Sheryl and Brenda.  However, the paint did not adhere to the door.  They had to carefully remove it.  Then a sanding and suitable base coat applied, more sanding and another coat of the correct paint.  The process took days to complete.   FINALLY time to hang that problem door...but...nobody measured the door and door opening.   The door was a standard 8 foot door. The opening for a taller industrial door.  OOPS!

The folks at Camp Casowasco appreciated the work we have accomplished.  They gave us a list of tasks and fully did not expect it all to be accomplished.   We completed that list plus so much more. Us older folks know how to work.

This picture of Harold says it all.

Until next time.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A few sites/sights at Finger Lakes area

Moravia,  NY

A great thing about volunteering with NOMADS is that we go to places we might not have visited except a project is in the area.   Another great thing is we work just 4 days a week so have 3 days to get a feel of the area.

Some highlights

Montezuma NWR

 This NWR is 9,000 acres of protected wetlands and uplands.  It is located at the north end of Cayuga Lake near the town of Auburn.

What fun it is to spot a bird that I could add to my book and list of bird sightings that I keep in the truck just for such a occasion.  ......A greater Yellowleg

  These are some familiar fellows.
A Blue-winged Teal

An American Coot

And watching some Canada Geese settle in

Chimney Bluff State Park

This State Park sits on the shore of Lake Ontario.

It was an easy walk from the parking lot through a picnic area then a thickly wooded area to the bluffs

This part of New York state is famous for their apple orchards.  And there were plenty.

Cornell University in Ithaca

Seeking to add more to my bird list we visited 

No luck but we did see:

This Blue Heron

And turtles, lot of turtles

Watkins Glen State Park

If you want a real challenge.....this is the place.   Over centuries and centuries nature has carved this beautiful gorge though thick rock.

800 steps.  From the Main entrance all up. The elevation goes from 490 feet to 1010 feet.  Yea, 800 steps.  Up.  We did 250.  Coming down was easier.

Our drive back to Casowasco took us on RT 14 from Watkins Glen to Geneva NY.  There were no less than 3 dozen wineries just along this road than runs on the west side of Seneca Lake

So, we have toured around Owasco Lake, Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake.   So much to see, so little time.

Loving Fall in upstate New York.

Until Next Time....