Header Picture

View From the Trail to Mount Colvin

My Readers

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More Big Changes on our Horizon

This has definitely been a year of change so far. The biggest of course was our purchasing a winter home down in Florida at the park where we’ve spent part of the last three winters. Now another new time in our life appears to be upon us.

As anyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time will know, every fall we spend several months working at Amazon. It’s a job which has served its purpose, and even though there are some unpleasant parts, like getting up in the middle of the night for several months, we had intended to keep going back for more for at least 5 more seasons. But looks like the times they are a’changin’.

It all started a few days back when we started to see communication on the Amazon camperforce page about an email, and then phone calls, that are going out about this year’s season at the Kentucky facility. Campers usually start anywhere from early August to early September. We had hoped to start early August this year to make up some of the money we didn’t make last year. But they have stated in the communications going out that the projections are in for this year’s season, and are notifying campers that the first group this year will be starting in mid-October. That is just too late for us. At the most we would be working 9 or 10 weeks – less time than we had last year. So we decided it was time for Plan B. We started talking about our options, and as of today, it is settled enough that I can make it “blog official”.

Really, it worked out so great that this was the year that we bought our Florida place. That figured heavily into our planning. We already have the next couple of months settled – visits with family, doctor’s appointments, and a trip to the Hershey area in July with our grandson. That brought us to early August when we were hoping to go to Kentucky and start work. Instead…we will head down to Florida and (hopefully) start work. (After a visit with Harry’s son and daughter-in-law who are moving to Charlotte this summer. That worked out well!)

There is a little more uncertainty in this plan because we don’t already have jobs lined up. But we are both feeling pretty confident that we can find something. We are looking at the bright side – more quality time with our new place, the ability to work all through the winter, I am excited about being settled for the Christmas season – and no 4 am wakeups and 10 hour shifts! We are entering another new season, and it’s pretty exciting!

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Weekend on Duty

I wasn’t sure what else to call this past weekend. The only other term that I can think of is “babysitting” but that one doesn’t quite fit as you will see.

18766937_10213823942539518_1576185922_oMy niece is big into soccer and plays for several different teams. She was traveling down to the Lancaster PA area for a soccer tournament this past weekend, so Harry and I spent the weekend with my nephews.

We had a really good time. We had an ongoing Mexican Train game that we played throughout the weekend. We had several different people in the lead at various points in the game but Matt ended up squeaking out a win at the end.

18817577_10213823944579569_354933991_oWhile we were at their house, we took the opportunity to visit our stuff which has been stored away in a corner of the basement for the past five years. Harry was happy to see his leather jacket again! We sorted out a bunch of stuff that we are going to bring with us back to our new place. It was so weird to go through those containers though – I had literally forgotten some of the things we packed away!!

18838422_10213823978620420_558081953_oOn Saturday we traveled to Hyde Park to the Franklin Roosevelt Historical Site where there was a World War II era military encampment set up as part of their Memorial Day weekend events.


Andrew liked the vehicles, especially the tanks.



I’m not sure what powdered eggs would taste like, and I’m sure glad I don’t have to find out!



Yesterday we went to check out the movie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. It was one of those “so stupid it’s funny” type of movies. Not something I would want to see again, but we all got some laughs out of it.

We finished up our weekend with a trip to Cold Stone Creamery. I love this picture of Matt – definitely one of my favorite pictures of the weekend.

We had a great time with the boys, although we were very glad to get home to our own bed last night! And the cats were happy to see us too.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Busy and Productive Week – Lots of Appointments!

Over the past summers, we’ve always stayed for a decent chunk of time in upstate NY. Both to see family and friends, and just to get our medical/annual stuff done. Last year we started to move some of those obligations down to Florida, establishing a dentist and eye doctors near our winter location. We didn’t move our primary care doctor, because we have a great doctor that we both just love. Our health insurance covers an annual check-up, but it’s one of those “one year and a day” deals. The first year we were fulltiming it worked out perfectly because our appointment was in early May. Then the next year when we went to make our appointment it had to be later than that of course. Now, between weekends, other obligations on our part and our doctor having taken vacation in late May one year, we are now into the middle of June for our physicals. So to get other stuff out of the way, last Friday we went and had our bloodwork done, and yesterday I had the dreaded colonoscopy! Well, not dreaded, but as a lot of you know, the prep is not fun. However, the best part about it is that it is now over, and with a good report, I don’t have to think about it again for ten years! Woot. That was really good news.

We have had an appointment of some sort every single day. Tomorrow we trek back over to Albany again for another one. It feels good to have hit the ground running here, and our last couple weeks here are going to be a bit more open. (We have drastically cut our time back in NY this year because we are taking our little guy on a trip in July, and we are hoping to start back to Amazon early in August to make up some of the shortfall from last year.)

Today we went over and explored our little corner of my sister’s basement. Wow, talk about out of sight, out of mind! There was stuff there that I had literally forgotten we had ever owned, much less tucked away for some future time when we could use it again. The only bummer is that there is too much there to bring it all down to Florida at one time. We emptied out a lot of space in our basement, but not that much! So we have to sort through, and decide what we would like to bring first. That will be a fun project!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Well, park model, not ranch. haha But I thought it was a catchy title.

18618414_10213732598455973_2066865846_oBack in April, before we purchased the park model, Harry’s main concern was whether the roof was in good shape, and how old it was. He was spending a lot of time thinking (worrying) about it, and I suggested that he just go up there and look at it himself. He came down feeling better about it, and then we went ahead with the purchase.

18596929_10213732594735880_1613307137_oAfter that, we started talking about our remodeling plans for the place, and about a potential timeline. Even though Harry had not seen anything horrible or falling apart when he was up there, the roof was still  at the top of our list, since we still didn’t have a good idea of how old it was. A lot of people in this park have had what is called a “roofover”, which is basically 18618441_10213732596255918_1735894925_oa roof made out of two inches of foam insulation that is placed right over the existing roof. It is guaranteed for life. We were planning to do that first thing next winter, but over a few days of talking it over, for a number of reasons we decided to not put it off. So we called one of the companies that does work in the park, and the guy came over to check out our place and give us an estimate.

18624523_10155358469169766_1646238531_nThe roof was supposed to be done within 3 to 4 weeks, but we got a call last week confirming the job for last Friday. We had asked the company rep if he would take some pictures for us since we won’t be back to see it ourselves until the end of the year, and he said no problem. Yesterday the pictures arrived!


You can see the old roof on the left and the right side being 18622898_10155358469299766_1088908678_nlayered over with the foam insulation.



They were going to build up the roof a little bit so there would be a more gradual slope between the house roof and Florida room.






One more “in progress” picture…






The finished product!








We are so pleased with the end result!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Just One of Those Days

Well, I guess we were due, because we’ve had a lot of uneventful travel days. And actually, the majority of yesterday went really well. But the last hour was horrible.


Here was the last calm part of our trip. I took this picture as we were driving up the road toward the campground. I love this view, and especially during the late spring, early summer, the colors of the leaves are just so vibrant and bright.


So then we pull into the campground. We are going to be here about a month, and made the reservation before we left last July for the same site that we had last year (and the year before). We went into the campground office, and the woman manning the desk does her thing, and she can’t find our reservation. In fact, according to the manager, we called and cancelled our reservation (which we did NOT). So she looks through the sites and tells us the one we always have isn’t available, but we can have this other one. Ugh. Well they aren’t that different, so we decide it’s fine, whatever. And we head over to get settled.

18485841_10213716810181276_8228728036000667122_nWell. One thing they didn’t mention, not that I’m sure it would have made any difference, whether we could have done anything to avoid what happened, was how completely saturated the ground is right now. And on top of that, the site we were trying to get into was in a tighter part of the road as comp18527606_10213716811741315_1927844426571981232_nared to the site where we usually stay. So as Harry is backing in the site and the rig is going across the grass, the wheels are sinking into the ground!! We would get to a certain point and then the truck just couldn’t get us over the rut the tires were creating to get into the site.

We tried both directions. It was very frustrating. We were getting the fiver wheels into mud by the site, and getting the truck wheels into mud on the other side of the road. We even got stuck at one point, and had to place our boards under the truck tires to get out of the mud. It looks a lot cleaner in the pictures than it actually was.

And there ended up being more reservation confusion too. But to make a long story a little shorter, eventually they realized that there wasn’t anyone in our normal site, and so, almost an hour later, we headed back over to start over again.



This time we made it in.

We aren’t in the site the way we normally would try to arrange ourselves. We have a couple feet of space on our off door side and basically nothing on the door side. But by the time we got to this position, I just said, good enough.



It wasn’t until after we unhooked and were starting to get unpacked that we realized we had a little casualty 18519970_10213716813581361_853041947080185125_nfrom our frustrating afternoon. The truck had jackknifed a few times and evidently the junction box for the kingpin came into contact with the rails for our truck cover. The junction box did not survive the encounter. Could have been much worse.

We are just glad the day came to an end without causing any major problems, and we are in our site. Phew. Glad days like that are few and far between!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Time With the Boys

We’ve been in Ohio now for almost a week and a half. Our main purpose for our time here was to get some quality time in with the boys, especially our little guy Kenny. Since his older brother is now in school and they haven’t gotten out for the year yet, we had a lot less time with him. (But we are looking forward to our first long trip with Schaun this summer, when we will be taking him to the Hershey PA area for two weeks in July.)

A few snapshots of our fun with the kids over the past week…


Selfies with the boys…














We managed to fit in a sleepover weekend…














Schaun decided to try a cone for the first time!






Kenny decorating Papa…



In the middle of our time here, we got a message from a relative of Harry’s that he had never met…a family connection that was made a few years ago through Facebook…they were passing through the area and wondered if we would be around for a quick visit…



Harry with his mother’s half sister and brother…

They had never met Harry’s mother, their half sister, so everyone enjoyed comparing family notes and looking at pictures. This is not the first time we have caught up with new family members through our travels. Both the internet and our fulltime lifestyle have been great catalysts of family reunions like this.

So we’ve had a really nice time in Ohio. Today we’ll be getting ourselves ready to head out, and tomorrow we move on to NY.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Benefit of Experience

Over the past week, on our way to Ohio, we’ve been traveling through the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. For the past three years, we’ve used a route up from Florida that went up past Atlanta and through Kentucky. We went that way for a couple reasons. Until just this past spring, my aunt lived outside Atlanta and on our trip home we would stop for a visit. But the other reason we went that way was to avoid the mountain routes. Harry and I get a bit stressed about traveling new routes, especially when the trip is going to include going over mountains.

73353_10200557082956320_933047080_nThis was our last time traveling on I77 in Virginia – back in January of 2013 right after we started fulltiming.

Then in the fall of 2013, we went through Virginia and West Virginia on our way to Amazon in Kentucky. We found that trip to be very stressful and that was the last time we went that way. The following year we went back to NY through Ohio and it was so straight and flat! We liked that route so much we just kept doing it.


Two things changed this year. First of all, my aunt moved back north near my mother. (After 20+ years near Atlanta, she is going to brave the northern winters again. Better her than me. haha)

Then there was the whole fire on I85 in Atlanta episode. Even though we don’t take I85, we figured that would have a negative impact on Atlanta’s already crazy traffic, so we decided to look for another route north to Ohio.



I found a pretty direct route that would go up 95 for a little bit and then over to I77 which would beeline straight up through the countryside to Ohio. It would actually cut 250 miles off our trip! The only downside – it is a route straight through the mountains.



We had a bit of anxiety remembering the stress of our earlier trip, but the benefits outweighed that. So we decided to go for it. And to our surprise – it wasn’t that bad!



Yes there were downgrades, and curvy roads. But we had no issues at all. The truck handled everything fine, and so did we! Even though we don’t feel any different,  I guess we’ve gained a little experience over the past five years after all. It gives me more confidence to think about traveling more new routes in the coming years.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Uneventful Trip Due to a Lot of Luck

It all started Monday afternoon when Harry decided to turn the tire pressure monitoring system on to check the tires as he always does before a travel day. He often has to put tire in the rv tires, but only rarely in the truck tires. Since he had just gotten the truck tires up to pressure before we left Avon Park, he was expecting them to be good. So he was really surprised to see that the inner rear dual tire was reading at 48 psi, way down from the 65 psi that Harry keeps them at. We both took a look at the tire and couldn’t see anything obvious, but it was a little worrisome to have it come up the day before we were traveling.


Harry brought it back up to pressure, and then we kept an eye on it the rest of the evening. It was holding fine, so we thought maybe the cap hadn’t been screwed on tightly allowing air to leak. We just decided to keep track of it closely.

Tuesday morning we pulled out right on track, just a little after 9. Thankfully it was a really quiet travel day. The traffic wasn’t too bad. We had a 350 mile trip ahead of us, so the day was a little long, but other than that it was a good day. I watched the suspect tire as we were traveling, checking the pressure, but it stayed close in pressure to its neighbors, so all seemed to be clear in that area.



It was about 3:30 when we pulled into the Charlotte/Fort Mill KOA. It was a really easy registration as the KOA is connected to the Valero gas station right on the corner.




The guy checked us in and then led us to our site. Really nice site, and I was wishing we were here for more than one night. (Be careful what you wish for!)


So this morning we were planning a late start. Our next trip was only going to be about 140 miles, so we weren’t going to head out until around 11 am. Then our day got derailed! Harry came in to say, I found the tire problem. I followed him out to the truck where I crouched down and looked where he was pointing to see a big screw stuck in our tire! (I wish I had taken a picture but wasn’t thinking about it at the moment for obvious reasons.)

That was the bad news but really there was a lot of good news to accompany it. The best good news was that we were parked and not on the road. It hit me after a few minutes that we had just traveled over 350 miles with a screw in our tire!! Also it was a real positive that we were in an urban area where there were three NTBs just within 10 miles of us. More good news was that we had purchased the road hazard warranty when we got our truck tires last year at Tire Kingdom (which is affiliated with NTB) and so the repair was at no charge.

So all in all, it was a good day for all of the above reasons. We extended our stay here until tomorrow (more good news – we could stay in our spot for another night), and called the place where we were staying next to change our reservation to tomorrow. The truck tire has been fixed and we are enjoying one more night here before we move on tomorrow.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Family Time and a Wedding

It’s been a week since we pulled into Pecan Park here in Jacksonville, and it’s been a fun week spent catching up with Harry’s family.


Harry has a large family, and since most of them are in NY, there were a lot who couldn’t make it. But still he got to catch up with his brothers Bill and John, and his sister Linda, whose son CW was getting married.

Harry sharing a laugh with his brother Bill…




Harry and his brother John…





Linda and Bill’s wife Fran…



It was a beautiful outdoor wedding with a country theme.


CW waiting for his bride…





CW and his wife Kris…






Linda and me with the beautiful bride…



It was a beautiful spot for a wedding. Harry and I are so glad that we were able to make the festivities. It definitely is something that we are grateful for with our mobile lifestyle, that we can spend time with family in other parts of the country that we wouldn’t normally be able to see as much, especially if we were still working.

We are hanging out in Jacksonville one more day, to let the storm system go by. Tomorrow we start our trek north. First stop will be in Charlotte, NC. By the end of the week, we will be seeing Harry’s daughter Gretchen and the grandsons!